Most stump speeches, especially at the local level, follow a formula. It goes something like this: “I’m John Smith. I grew up right here in town. I have a beautiful wife, kids and a golden lab. I went to a local high school, and then on to state university. Now, I work for a big local company, volunteer and attend church.” Eyes glaze over from there.
Candidates who give this type of stump speech have good intentions. They want to connect with voters. They want voters to believe they share their values and will represent them because “they are one of us.”
Yet the major issue with the resume stump speech is that it bores a candidate’s audience and lacks any memorable emotional effect. The candidate’s audience tunes him or her out in the end.
Rather than give a resume stump speech, candidates should instead tell their origin story. This is the story that epic movies tell about their hero in the first part of the film. It’s the story that answers questions like, who is this person? What’s their motivation? If candidates’ stump speeches can answer those kinds of questions then their voters will be more likely to form emotional and memorable connections with their campaign.
Candidates should follow a few basic principles when crafting their origin story. First, they should identify some emotional event that led them to pursue a career in public service. This could a candidate’s upbringing or a defining moment that told him or her, “This is what I was meant to do.” Next, candidates should tie the emotional core of their origin story into their campaign’s overall message.