How Keynote Political Speakers Can Make Your Event More Successful

Posted on January 3, 2016 By PB Talent  

While talk about politics and the daily back-and-forth between GOP and DNC tends to dominate much of the news and cause many to tire of political speeches and punditry, relatively few people actually hear a political speaker up-close and personal at an organized event. Furthermore, politics has an impact on almost every other area of life, including business, health care, sports, agriculture, and education, and this frequently makes it appropriate for them to deliver the keynote address even at events that are not strictly political.

Beyond topical considerations, however, there are other reasons to choose a politically influential speaker, including skillfulness at clarifying controversial issues, motivating people to work together as a group, and inspiring an audience to see a vision of a promising future.

Time magazine has recently published a list of the top 10 speeches ever delivered. Below, we have selected 3 off this list for illustrative purposes:

1. Patriotic Events: Patrick Henry

In 1775, the War for Independence had already begun in Massachusetts, and Virginia teetered on the brink of joining the Patriot cause. It was the famous words of Patrick Henry before the Virginia House of Burgesses that finally persuaded his fellow citizens and led to a unanimous vote for taking up arms.

Henry began by challenging the false hope that many still clung to, noted that their fellow Americans were already engaged in the conflict, encouraged them that the war was winnable, and inspired them to value liberty above life itself.

Some excerpts from his speech are:

  • “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth.”
  • “Gentlemen may cry, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?”
  • “Three million people…armed in the holy cause of liberty…are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides…there is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations…”
  • “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

A political speaker with the clear-eyed assessment of the situation, an understanding of what is holding people back from taking action and how to motivate them, and who inspires his audience to value all that makes America great above mere temporal comforts can make your Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, or other patriotic event far more memorable.

2. Challenging Social Injustice: Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born as a Maryland slave, but he escaped to the North and soon became a leader among New England abolitionists. He eventually published an autobiography and an abolitionist newspaper, ran a local branch of the Underground Railroad, and worked to end segregation in the public schools.

In 1852, he was invited to speak at a Rochester, NY, Independence Day celebration, and while he accepted the invitation, his speech may have seemed “unpatriotic” to some. He assaulted the injustice of slavery with such words as these:

“Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions…standing here, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare…that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July.”

At events designed to call attention to some form of social injustice or inhumane treatment of fellow men, a bold but factual political speaker with the courage to challenge accepted norms may be in order. A remarkable life story and a history of fighting against the very wrongs he/she exposes is also highly desirable.

3. Working to Better Society: John F. Kennedy

JFK spent 2 months preparing his relatively short inauguration speech. Yet, he used his words wisely, and many of them are still remembered today:

  • “Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”
  • “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
  • “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
  • “My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Many political speakers will be appropriate at events held by non-profit, humanitarian organizations that wish to gain new members and hold special fundraising sessions to increase their ability to help their fellow man better his present condition.

About Hiring a Political Speaker

If you believe that a certain type of political speaker would be ideal to enhance the success of your event, you will need to know something about how such speakers are typically hired today. First, you will do well to work through a reputable talent agency since their agents will have access to a large pool of speakers from which you can select, with his/her help, the one that best fits your needs.

Furthermore, most modern political speakers have very particular requirements as to the topics, times, and circumstances under which they will agree to a speaking engagement. Some, for example, may want transportation, accommodations, and security to be provided. Some may be willing to do book signings, meet and greets, and interview sessions, while others will do nothing but the speech itself. It all depends on the speaker’s preferences, so you need an agent who is familiar with them. Finally, we should also note that there are sometimes very long waiting lists for the most popular political speakers. Using a talent agent will make the process move quicker and minimize the wait.