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How to Write an Effective Stump Speech

Anup Patwardhan Mar 15, 2020
A speech can decide the course that a political campaign takes. It is one of the factors that makes a difference to the future of a nominee. A few pointers for those interested in knowing how to write a stump speech.

Matter of Fact

To this day, Abraham Lincoln remains one of the best stump speakers ever seen by the United States of America.
Speech is silver, silence is golden.

A speech may turn out silvery when compared to golden silence, but this might not be the case always. There are times when a speech can make or break careers, especially in case of politicians.
A speech can turn out to be 'the' deciding factor of their political future. It is one of the things that can make someone a member of the administration or a member of the opposition in Congress.
Being a good orator is one of the trademark traits of a good leader. Owing to the busy nature of electoral campaigns, a candidate has to dole out several speeches in the span of a week, or sometimes a day, and with consistency. To assist in this, a candidate is provided with a standard speech that he/she delivers each time.
The speech is kept standard so that the focus remains on the main agenda of a campaign, and also because it eases the speech delivery for the orator. This speech is usually written by someone from the campaigning team.

What Does a Stump Speech Mean?

The standard speech that a politician delivers during a campaign when running for office is known as a stump speech. In various stump speeches by the same candidate, the gist remains the same.
There are changes in some aspects of the speech. These changes are in the introduction, local references, and the like. It is of prime importance that the candidate or someone from his team knows how to write an effective stump speech.
'Stump speech', the term and the speech itself originated somewhere in the early decades of the 19th century. John Reynolds, the Governor of Illinois, during the 1830s, recalled giving stump speeches in the 1820s. According to him, stump speeches had received their name and fame in Kentucky.
Stump speeches are standard, and hence predictable. Owing to this fact, they are not covered by national media, except at the beginning of a campaign. These, however, are received well by local news agencies. Even the conclusion becomes predictable after being an audience at a first few of them.
One such example is of Nelson Rockefeller, 49th Governor of the state of New York (1959 - 1973). He would invariably use the phrase 'the brotherhood of man, under the fatherhood of God', when concluding his speeches.

Why is it Called a Stump Speech?

In the 19th century, candidates campaigning from town to town used the stump of a tree as a dais when giving their speeches. This made the speeches famous stump speeches. Trees were specially cut to the stump so that they could be used for campaign purposes.
Even to this day, being able to give a good stump speech is one the key political skills that a candidate must have. Stump speeches, in the earlier days, consisted of self-boasting by a candidate, insults directed towards the opponents, or simply some relevant humor. These traits are eminent in them to this day.

Effective Tips for Stumping

  • Outline the points that the speech must be centered around.
  • Focus the speech around the message to be delivered. It must be prepared by keeping the central agenda in mind.
  • The speech must be logical. It will help the speaker to captivate the audience.
  • Include a strong slogan or message in the speech. This will create an impact on public memory.
  • Use effective and convincing language in writing and in delivery.
  • Keep a check on the humor element in the content. The audience is very likely to take the orator and his opinions seriously.
  • The stump should not be too long or too short. Also keep the context in mind when preparing content.

Famous Slogans/Messages from Stumps

"Ask not what your country has done for you, ask what you can do for your country." ―John Kennedy

"Restore America to its own people" ―Franklin Roosevelt

"Opportunity for all, responsibility from all." ―Bill Clinton

"The old ways will not do." ―John Kennedy

"Have faith that right makes might." ―Abraham Lincoln
Stump speeches remain a hit with the general population even today. One of the contributing factors is their entertainment value. When delivered to perfection, such a speech can provide the Midas touch to a campaign.