Speechwriting 101 with Sally Sitou

Our first extraordinary parliamentarian from the Class of 22 is Sally Sitou, the Member for Reid. 

The daughter of migrants from China and Laos, Sally was an unexpected victor in the inner-western Sydney seat of Reid. 

Sally’s speech focuses on the incredible change her parents and family have gone through in the last 40 years. From fearful migrants unable to share their views in their homeland to sitting in the gallery of the Australian parliament watching their daughter give her first speech as an elected member.

As Sally says in the snippet, “I marvel at how much has changed for my family in just one generation.”

Sally’s speech works on so many levels – not least of which her adorable Mum waving at her from the gallery.

But as a speechwriter, Sally draws on the concept of ‘then and now’ – drawing parallels between the fear of her parents not being able to share their thoughts and beliefs to watching their daughter proudly share hers on the national stage.

To do this in your own speeches:

  • Draw parallels between the past and the present (or the not-too-distant past if you’re reminiscing). What’s changed, what’s the same?
  • Use emotional descriptors to mark progress where you can: fearful to confident, ashamed to proud etc. These are not for the purpose of quantifying progress but of connecting that progress to others in a human way. Emotion softens the ground for connection.
  • ‘On this day/date’ is a powerful opener to set the scene. Before the snippet I’ve shared, Sally notes that she is giving her first speech to parliament on the 40th anniversary of her parents’ Australian citizenship. Beautiful, cosmic fate.

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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