Speechwriting 101 with Penny Allman-Payne

A former lawyer and now high school teacher in Central Queensland, Penny Allman-Payne was elected to the senate representing the Greens, making Queensland the only state outside of Tasmania to ever have two Greens senators at once. 

This was Penny’s third attempt at getting into parliament running in both state and federal elections previously. 

Penny’s speech talks a lot about her history and what is important to her, particularly equality and social justice. It’s in this snippet that we see the beginnings of Penny’s activism and determination.

I have been an activist for most of my life. My first act of civil disobedience took place in year 9 at Tully State High School. For six weeks I stood at the back of our classroom, refusing to participate in mothercraft lessons unless the boys were required to do it too. In the years that followed, ‘mothercraft’ became ‘parentcraft’, and I like to think that my small act of protest played a part in that.

And that’s what Penny does well. She talks about the very beginning of her activism journey which has brought her to the Australian Senate. It shows experience and a determination to fight for what she believes in – essential when you’re representing a political party with strong environmental messages. 

To use your beginnings in your own speeches:

• Outline when or where you got your first taste of your topic or a skill you bring. This doesn’t have to be a boring bio – bring humour just like Penny did.

• If there’s more than one example, ie this topic or skill is a common thread throughout your life, make that the backbone of your speech. Stories are so effective and give you lots of space to connect.

• Don’t forget to talk about success, failure and what has kept you going all this time. It’s unlikely that you’ve been successful at everything your entire life so let people know what you’ve overcome. It’ll make you relatable and inspiring. 

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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