Speechwriting 101 with Dr Sophie Scamps

Our third doctor of the Class of ’22 is Dr Sophie Scamps. The new independent member for Mackellar – considered a very safe Liberal seat until Sophie won it – is not only a GP but a former Olympic-qualifying middle-distance runner and the founder of environmental organisation Our Blue Dot.

Sophie’s speech is really beautifully constructed and her delivery is fantastic. All that despite admitting she’s horrified by public speaking. 

Where Sophie’s speech really excels is in her vulnerability. Vulnerability is the secret sauce of building trust and connection. There’s nothing more reassuring than hearing someone else admit that they felt how you feel. 

Think of the social movements of the not-too-distant past: Me Too, RU OK, Body Positivity. They all start with someone sharing a story that makes you – or someone like you – feel heard.

Here’s a snippet from Sophie’s speech that shows this well:

Stepping up as a candidate wasn’t easy for me. I’ve always been pretty horrified by public speaking, for one thing. I also gave up being a GP, a job that I loved, and I knew this role would take me away from my children and family. But I am thankful that my past as an athlete trained me to step outside of my comfort zone. As I had done thousands of times before in my previous life, my earlier life, I put myself into the race.

To use vulnerability in your own speeches:

• Tell your story, warts and all. We’re all sick to death of the filtered, glossy highlight reel. We want to know that people are just like us so we don’t have to feel shame or isolation. Build connection and trust by being open.

• Offer your audience hope or solutions. Don’t just drop them down the well of “everything is terrible and scary” and leave them there. Even if you’re still a work in progress, let’s see it! 

• Caution: be vulnerable only as far as you’re comfortable. This is not the Trauma Olympics – there are no prizes for re-traumatising yourself. Check in with yourself or a professional if you’re unsure.

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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