Obama writer: Crafting speeches with authenticity

A former White House speechwriter offers tips on finding stories and considers the upside of audiences with smartphones.

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In her speech to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama recalled the time her family headed for the White House seven and a half years earlier.

Her daughters, seven and 10 years old, piled into black SUVs guarded by big men with guns, she told the convention. “And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, ‘What have we done?'”

Repeatedly referring to her children, the speech framed the coming election as an opportunity to stand against hateful rhetoric and for the coming generation.

“This election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives,” Obama said.

Behind the scenes of that memorable address was speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz, who will keynote Ragan’s 2017 Leadership and Executive Communications Conference in September. Hurwitz plans to offer advice on how to tell vivid stories, make compelling arguments and convey truths that move audiences to action.

Measuring the impact

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