Speechwriting 101 with Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah

Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah is one of three doctors sworn into the 47th parliament in the Class of ’22. Taking on the safe Liberal party seat of Higgins, Dr Ananda-Rajah, with the help of a very strong Greens vote, took the inner-Melbourne seat from former member, Dr Katie Allen – another doctor!

Dr Ananda-Rajah has had a unique view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in a busy Melbourne hospital, she’s seen it all and experienced the highs and lows of a health system under stress dealing with an unknown.

Michelle’s speech talks of watching healthcare workers in Italy die in the early days of the pandemic, fighting for appropriate PPE and waiting – agonisingly – for the arrival of the vaccine.

It was this experience that raised the stakes for her and it’s what she shares in her speech.

“It was cold comfort to my doctor husband and me that we had sorted out our wills. At least my children would be fine if their parents died.”

While this speech could easily fall into the emotion, metaphor or storytelling categories, for me, it best sits with talking about what is truly at stake. Good, bad and indifferent. 

To do this in your own speeches:

  • What are the true stakes of what you’re talking about. What good could happen? What bad could happen? What if we just do nothing? Explore that.
  • Use emotional and personal language to describe these stakes. Facts and figures are fine, but how it impacts people – their lives and their futures – is critical. ‘Ten people died’ doesn’t have the same impact as ‘ten mothers and fathers, like you and me, died.”
  • Caution: don’t exaggerate your stakes. Make them relatable and personal but don’t inflate the numbers of over-egg the impact. That will destroy your credibility.

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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