Speechwriting 101 with Kylea Tink

With a distinguished career in the not-for-profit sector behind her – including the McGrath Foundation and Camp Quality – our next member of the Class of ’22 is Kylea Tink. Deciding to run as an independent late in the piece, Kylea turned the safe Liberal seat of North Sydney into a marginal seat with a margin of around 3%.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Kylea is an experienced speechwriter and public speaker. That or she’s just an incredibly talented natural. 

Kylea uses a lot of great speechwriting tricks to make her speech better but the one we’ll focus on here is imagery. Imagery is all about using your words to make an audience feel like they can experience what you’re describing. Kylea uses imagery to describe her home town of Coonabarabran. 

Here’s a great snippet from Kylea’s speech:

For the first 18 years of my life, it was my world, and much of who I am today was formed in those early years—the open spaces, the clean skies, stars like you’ve never seen, the heat off the ground during summer and the frost that cakes your windscreen in winter.

She’s telling you about it but also letting you imagine what that feels like. Using familiar feelings, we get a true sense of the place.

To use imagery in your own speeches:

• When you’re describing something that you want people to appreciate and understand, awaken their senses. What does it smell like? Look like? Feel like? Taste like?

• Combine senses and use other descriptors (within reason – don’t go too nuts with the adjectives) to heighten the effect. Give people time to absorb what you’ve describe and feel it for themselves.

• If you’re describing something unfamiliar, compare the senses with familiar things. If your audience don’t know what standing next to a volcano feels like, you might compare it to the heat radiating off a hot carpark in summer. 

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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