Five Tips For Writing Your Stump Speech - National Democratic Training Committee

Over the course of a campaign, you have opportunities to present yourself to various audiences. During these events, a candidate is expected to give a stump speech. Writing and delivering a good stump speech is your best chance to tell voters your personal story and the core message of your campaign. 

A stump speech gives voters insight into why the candidate is running for office and what changes they want to make in the community. Candidates repeat stump speeches countless times during a campaign. Therefore, it is crucial for stump speeches to be concise and memorable.

Stump speeches are longer than an “elevator pitch”, but shorter than a traditional speech. Often, candidates don’t have sufficient time to make a case to voters. Your stump speech will be your go-to speech that shows voters who you are as a candidate and a person. So what makes a stump speech a success?

Here are our top five tips for writing your stump speech:

1. Tell Voters Who You Are

The first step is easy: Simply tell voters your name and the office you’re running for. A lot of candidates forget to add this element, and it’s a very important one!

2. Tell Your Story

Past experiences like growing a small business can show voters you’re innovative, resourceful, and entrepreneurial. Telling a story about teaching children demonstrates a community-centered mindset. The candidate’s story, their “story of self,” should illustrate who they are and their competency for the work ahead. The story of self is a valuable tool for providing background and demonstrating qualifications.

Detailed storytelling creates commonality, giving voters the ability to connect on a deeper level. Stories force us to reevaluate our perception of the world. For example, a story about a loved one’s health emergency may be the reason the candidate believes in making quality healthcare affordable for everyone.

Craft your story of self

3. The Why

It’s critical to show your audience why you have decided to run for office. When voters can connect your motivation to the policies you want to enact, it helps them trust you. It shows voters that you are your own validator. For example, a business-owner might say they will bring their enterprising mentality to state government. A parent running for school board may promise to bring the same commitment they have raising their children to the board.

Find Your Why.

4. Bridge From Me to We

Tell audiences why your story matters to them. Identify issues in your community that voters care about, and discuss your plan to address those problems once elected.

Discuss policy in more detail. If a candidate has plans for specific issues like unpaved roads, discuss them.

Tailor discussions to the audience. If the stump speech is for a school’s parents association, talk about the plan for addressing low test scores. If you don’t have a plan for a specific issue, lean into your story and engage the audience.

Your stories show the audience how you tackle problems. The same energy you put into overcoming challenges is the same energy you will put into solving new problems. This is the trust factor at work.

5. Making an Ask

At the end of a stump speech, you hopefully convinced a large portion of the audience to support you. They may be looking for ways to help your campaign.

This is the moment where the specific ask must be made. What do you want them to do? You may want them to register to vote and commit to voting on election day. Maybe you want them to donate to your campaign. You may want them to volunteer and host campaign events. Regardless, the request must be clear at the end of the speech. 

By the end of the campaign, you will want to throw away your stump speech, and never hear it again. That’s a good thing! It means you performed this one speech so many times you conveyed your core message to voters. This repetition is why your stump speech is so important. It is your best chance to make the right impression and be memorable to voters come election day. These tips will help you start writing your stump speech. Below is an annotated sample to help you further visualize your stump speech!       

Craft Your Stump Speech

stump speech annotation

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