Speechwriting 101 with Jana Stewart

Appointed to the Senate earlier this year following the death of Senator Kimberley Kitching (s15 of the Constitution allows this) and then successful at the most recent election, Senator Jana Stewart of Victoria is the youngest First Nations woman to ever be elected to our federal parliament.

Her first speech was delivered just a month before she’s due to have her second child. Any day now!

Jana was the first in her family to attend university and became a qualified family therapist. Guided by her lived experience of family violence and drug misuse, Jana is ready to bring a greater focus on these issues in the Australian senate.

Jana’s speech is really powerful – and you should listen to the whole thing if you have the chance. She speaks deeply about her family, culture and the wise words she received from the women in her life. 

What you’ll notice in the snippet is not only a strong personal use of statistics but also how she’s managing her nerves throughout. As anyone who’s spoken publicly before knows, sometimes those nerves just do not want to go away and so Jana manages them all the way through. 

To manage your nerves in your own speeches:

• Remember to breathe – deeply and calmly. Controlling your breath is a great way to signal to your body that everything’s okay. A shallow breath will do the opposite. Take your time.

• Slow down. It’s tempting to try and speed your way through it so it’s over. Plus, your racing heartbeat is setting a tempo you can’t help but try and meet. Breathe and slow it down.

• If you feel comfortable, mention your nerves as an icebreaker. It’s a good chance to pause and reset and get reassurance that the audience wants you to do well. 

Give it a try for yourself and let me know how you go.

If you need more help, download my free guide to writing ovation-worthy speeches here.

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