3 speechwriting tips from a Kennedy eulogy

Caroline Kennedy’s eulogy for Edward Kennedy provides tips for all speechwriters: It’s OK to make people laugh, show emotion, and highlight the details.

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Caroline Kennedy acknowledges that public speaking is “unbelievably stressful” for her. During her short-lived U.S. Senate campaign in 2008, the media counted her “ums” and “you knows,” questioned her preparation, and gave her speaking style poor reviews.

In a family known for its eloquence, her speeches are rushed and emotionless compared to the greatest hits of her father and famous uncles.

But this post is about famous speeches, not perfect speakers. Kennedy rose to the challenge when she delivered the last eulogy of the day at her uncle Edward Kennedy’s memorial service in 2009. While she didn’t crisply deliver her remembrance or fill it with lovely language, it was the right speech for her audience, her speaking style, and the needs of the occasion.

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