doubleshot media

for a strong, fast pick-me-up

Speech lessons from #Trump victory and #HillaryClinton concession

In speeches (in politics and business) your choice of words is crucial.

As a journalist turned political and business speechwriter,  I’ve been carefully  studying speeches from the recent US election. The election gives us all many examples of choosing your words carefully. I have great admiration for US speechwriters.


In Clinton’s concession speech she used these words on Trump becoming the next president of the US.

We owe him an open mind and THE chance to lead..

Every word counts – including ‘little words’ like the difference between A and THE as well as key words like CHANCE.


It’s difficult when foes need to be civil to each other. You don’t want to appear hypocritical  and insincere to your audience – especially Australian audiences who (from my experience) hate B.S. and too much of a change of direction in message. This applies to politics AND business – where companies that are former foes and rivals need to work together. (as happens so often with business M&As and amalgamations). Your message need to be strong AND sincere AND any change of direction needs to be BELIEVABLE and ACHIEVABLE.

We owe him an open mind and THE chance to lead..

Here’s what I like about the above choice of words – and how we can all learn and benefit from.


  1. we owe him – she (Hillary) and all Americans are obliged to to this. She is not being hypocritical by ‘changing her tune’ and her position on Trump (after such heated attacks on him). We is such a powerful word in politics and business. It has the connotation that the speaker need to take certain action – as well as the audience.

We owe him is much more powerful than I owe him or You owe him.

      2. chance – she seems to limit her support – by using the word chance –

chance: an opportunity to do something : an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done.

She is not ‘giving’ or ‘asking her audience for’ unfettered approval of Trump’s leadership – but the chance to lead.


In my opinion – chance is not too big a leap for Hillary or the audience.


What I would have tweaked to make it better:


I would have used A chance instead of THE chance.

A limits chance even further.

THE – make something bigger and longer-lasting.

A – means one chance.


Now perhaps the speechwriter wrote A instead of THE – and Hillary said THE. I’ll study  the actual original speech rather than a media transcript reporting what she said.


When I help politicians and businesses improve their speeches – I often use well-known examples  – and I’ll use one now to illustrate the importance of little words like A.

You may be familiar with the Neil Armstrong quote:



Apparently, the real wording was one small step for A man – but the noise in the transmission from the moon obscured the word A.

A man – means one man – in this case one astronaut.

man – without the A (in this case) means man in general – which is similar to mankind.

That’s why the quote would be more powerful with the contrast between – a man and the whole of mankind.

Some ‘purists’ like to preserve the quote with the A in it!



Anyway, from 1969 back to 2016 – and Hillary’s choice of words –

In my opinion:

We owe him an open mind and THE chance to lead..      is good

We owe him an open mind and A chance to lead..      is even better.



My point to you: we can all  learn from carefully studying the words used by politicians.

When you don’t want too much of a change of direction – you can use words to create an believable and acceptable change.

And little words like A – make A difference. In fact words make THE difference.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on November 10, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
%d bloggers like this: