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The Political Speechwriter's Companion

The Political Speechwriter's Companion
A Guide for Writers and Speakers

Second Edition

July 2019 | 536 pages | CQ Press

Can you really learn to write speeches?

The Political Speechwriter's Companion guides students through a systematic “LAWS” approach (language, anecdote, wit, and support) that politicians can use to persuade their audiences into taking action. In the highly anticipated Second Edition, esteemed speechwriter and author Robert A. Lehrman has teamed up with one of the "go-to-guys" for political humor, Eric Schnure, to offer students an entertaining yet practical introduction to political speechwriting. This how-to guide explains how speakers can deliver: 

  • language the audience will understand and remember, 
  • anecdotes that make listeners laugh and cry, 
  • wit that pokes fun at opponents but also shows their own lighter side, and
  • support in the way of statistics, examples, and testimony. 

Packed with annotated speeches from the most recent elections, technology tips, and interviews from speechwriting luminaries, this edition offers the most practical advice and strategies for a career in political communication.  

Introduction: Why Speechwriting Matters
Does Speechwriting Matter?  
Why This Book?  
Why Focus Only on Political Life?  
Chapter 1. The Political Speech
Politicians Must Speak More  
Politicians Must Persuade  
Politicians Must Be Liked  
Politicians Must Stay Upbeat  
Politicians Must Speak to Average Folks  
Politicians Must Get Quoted  
Final Words  
Chapter 2. Persuasion
Persuasion: The Questions  
Persuasion: The Modes  
Appealing to Reason  
Appealing to Emotion  
Appealing through Characterization  
Final Words  
Chapter 3. Audiences
Who Are Your Audiences?  
What Makes Each Audience Unique?  
What Do Audiences Feel about the Speaker?  
Final Words  
Chapter 4. Research
Researching the Event  
Researching the Ideas  
Researching the Poetry  
Final Words  
Chapter 5. Structure
Why Monroe Works Well in Politics  
Other Structures  
Monroe Plus  
Monroe in Practice: Four Tips  
Final Words  
Chapter 6. Language People Understand
Writing for Clarity  
Reading versus Hearing  
Final Words  
Chapter 7. Language People Remember
Making Language Vivid  
Making Language Rhythmic  
Final Words  
Chapter 8. Anecdote
Relevant, Remembered, Ready to Act  
Types and Tips  
Final Words  
Chapter 9. Wit
Writing to Make Them Laugh  
How to Do It  
Types and Tips  
Final Words  
Chapter 10. Support
Using Evidence  
Types of Evidence  
Making Evidence Memorable  
Arguing Responsibly  
Final Words  
Chapter 11. Beginnings
Praise, Thanks, Acknowledgments  
Getting Serious and Stating the Purpose  
Final Words  
Chapter 12. Problems
Final Words  
Chapter 13. Solutions
Inspire Solutions with Language  
Inspire Solutions through Ethos  
The Three Ps: Proposal, Persuasion, Punch Line  
Final Words  
Chapter 14. Writing Conclusions
Four-Part Close: The Steps  
Four-Part Close: Strategy  
Final Words  
Chapter 15. Delivery
Elements of Delivery  
Delivery’s Best Practice: Practice  
Expanding Your Horizons  
Final Words  
Chapter 16. Ethics
Misleading Listeners  
Speechwriting: Unethical by Definition?  
Final Words  
Chapter 17. The Uneasy Partnership: Advice for Speakers and Writers
For Speakers: What Speechwriters Need from You  
For Speechwriters: What Speakers Need from You  
Final Words  
Chapter 18. Final, Final Words
Appendix. A Speech for Almost Every Occasion
Index of Speakers
About the Authors

“All of us who write and speak and try to help others do so should be grateful."

Lamar Alexander
United States Senator for Tennessee

"A classic for anyone who cares about speech, or covers it."


Al Hunt
Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News Washington Bureau

 "By far the best book on speechwriting I have ever read:"

Dan Pink
New York Times bestselling author, and former White House speechwriter

"This solid guide for speechwriters and speechgivers, written by a pair of the top practitioners of the art, makes both the philosophical case of why speechwriting matters and the very practical one of precisely how to make a speech work."

Susan Page
Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY Author of “The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty”

"The Political Speechwriter's Companion is the first book on speechwriting I ever read, and it's the first one I recommend to anyone seriously interested in speechwriting as a craft. If you work in political communications (or really any type of communications) this belongs in your office." 

David Litt
Former Speechwriter for President Obama Best selling author of ”Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years”
Key features


  • A foreword by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) offers a rare view of the speechwriting process drawing from his four decades as a national figure.
  • An expanded discussion of ethics clarifies for students the definition of an unethical speech and provides examples of recent speeches that were plagiarized or misleading. 
  • New content on technology provides students with new websites and avenues to communicate—making it easier for students to their conduct research and expand their reach.
  • Influences from political life are integrated throughout each chapter to help students understand the motivation for speeches and the true stories that have influenced the language. 
  • New co-author Eric Schnure draws from years of speechwriting experience to help students develop good speechwriting skills. Called by one reporter the "go-to-guys" for political humor in Washington, he also provides insights into the roasts that are part of Washington life. 
  • An expanded discussion on persuasion provides students with a critical assessment of the elements of persuasion, as well as the reasons why persuasive speech has dominated the field. 
  • A new interview with Dr. Elvin Lim, author of The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, enables students to develop a more nuanced view about issues discussed in the book by examining the views of someone whose ideas are opposite of the authors. 


  • Annotated Speeches provide students with important notes and help clarify the variety of techniques used in speechwriting. 
  • Interviews with some of the best speechwriters in the country offer students helpful tips for crafting a successful speech. 
  • “Behind the Scenes” insights from historic speeches give students a glimpse into the work that it takes to pull off an effective speech. 
  • Multiple exercises throughout the book enable students to practice and build their speechwriting skills. 
  • A “Speechwriter’s Checklist” at the end of every chapter reminds students of the most important things they will need to remember when drafting a speech. 
  • “As Delivered” boxes point students to a series of web links where they can watch the speeches being discussed in the book.  

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: The Political Speech

Chapter 4: Research

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ISBN: 9781506387741