When Your Stump Speech Goes Stale

How’s your stump speech?

You’re not a politician, you say. You don’t give stump speeches. But think about it. If you’re on a company’s new business team, or a member of their speaker’s bureau, you’re giving stump speeches all the time. They’re just called media interviews or presentations.

Aren’t they similar to what the presidential and congressional candidates are doing right now in their stump speeches? You’re pounding away at your key messages every time you speak.

Repair Your Broken Record


Some speech coaches preach that you should repeat your key messages, like a broken record. But that can be tiresome. Your pitch starts to grow stale. You find your mind wandering off in the middle of an interview with a reporter, or a presentation to a new business prospect.

Or, you start repeating your key messages verbatim regardless of a reporter’s questions and she begins to think you’re avoiding the issues she wants to discuss.

Your key messages need to be woven into your discussion naturally, and not delivered like bursting popcorn kernels.

Staying “On Message”

If you’re a TV spokesman promoting a product, it can be downright dangerous if you’re so bored you begin to go off message.

When Mitt Romney went off message in his 2012 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” we were left to wonder if it was planned or he just slipped because he was tired of repeating his stump speech.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Gov. Romney said, “I’m not getting rid of all of health-care reform…of course, there are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.”

But the media immediately jumped on his comments to report that Mr. Romney appeared to be moving to a more moderate position in abandoning his pre-nomination position that ObamaCare had to be repealed. His staff had a lot of explaining to do.

Keep it Fresh

So, if you’re in the position where you need to deliver the same speech over and over again, how do you keep it fresh?

  • Add local color. That’s what politicians did during the 19th century when the term “stump speech” entered the vocabulary. Candidates would literally stand on a tree stump when talking to a crowd. At every campaign stop, they would mention local leaders and discuss their issues. Of course, they could be less careful about what they said because there was no Internet sending their messages viral instantaneously. But the Internet can also be your friend when you do a search for local angles to use in your interview or presentation.
  • Use different examples. You clearly are supporting your key messages with facts, anecdotes and other evidence. Try choosing different stories to tell. Update your facts. Refer to something happening in the news that supports your point of view.
  • Practice with someone. Maybe it’s time to review your speech or presentation with your internal communications advisers or a professional coach. Practice in front of them and get honest feedback. Maybe you need to refine your key messages. They can help you to refresh the examples you’re using. Record the session so you can see for yourself what you need to change.
  • Double-team. You don’t always need to go solo. If there is another subject matter expert available, ask him to join you so that you don’t need to carry the discussion all by yourself.
  • Give yourself a rest. If you’re a spokesperson who is always on the road, you may be cramming too many meetings into one day. Don’t schedule back-to-back interviews. You need to allow time to eat and relax so you’re fresh for your next meeting. Hire a driver to take you around. You’ll conserve energy and, besides, you don’t need the stress of getting lost in a new city.

Moving to 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s messages have not gotten stall, as they are constantly changing! We do not advocate that either.

A key question you can ask yourself if you find your stump speech growing stale: “Do I believe in what I’m saying?”

Are you delivering your key messages with passion and real conviction? If not, then it may be time to re-evaluate your stump speech.

It may not be you but the messages that need to change.

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