Speechwriting Resources: Fact Sheet

As elected officials and leaders, Senators and Representatives are frequently called upon to deliver speeches and other public remarks to a range of audiences. Congressional staff often prepare draft speeches for Members of Congress.

Effective delivery can greatly improve the reception of a speech. In general, congressional speechwriters should make every effort to become familiar with the speaking style of the Member for whom they are writing, adjusting drafts accordingly. Contemporary American public address emphasizes a style that is natural, direct, low key, casual, and conversational. These elements usually put listeners at ease and promote a sense of community between audience and speaker.

In general, speeches are best written in simple, direct, and often short sentences that listeners easily understand. They should be written with a sense for an event’s occasion and purpose and likely audience, including such factors as age, gender, culture, profession, political affiliation, and size of audience. Speechwriters should strive to maintain a clear theme throughout a speech.

This fact sheet provides links to resources that can assist in the speechwriting process.

Please note, that although the Congressional Research Service (CRS) can assist with background research for speeches, policy guidelines prohibit CRS from writing speeches for Congress.

Speechwriting Resources: Fact Sheet

November 3, 2017 (R44239)

As elected officials and leaders, Senators and Representatives are frequently called upon to deliver speeches and other public remarks to a range of audiences. Congressional staff often prepare draft speeches for Members of Congress.

Effective delivery can greatly improve the reception of a speech. In general, congressional speechwriters should make every effort to become familiar with the speaking style of the Member for whom they are writing, adjusting drafts accordingly. Contemporary American public address emphasizes a style that is natural, direct, low key, casual, and conversational. These elements usually put listeners at ease and promote a sense of community between audience and speaker.

In general, speeches are best written in simple, direct, and often short sentences that listeners easily understand. They should be written with a sense for an event's occasion and purpose and likely audience, including such factors as age, gender, culture, profession, political affiliation, and size of audience. Speechwriters should strive to maintain a clear theme throughout a speech.

This fact sheet provides links to resources that can assist in the speechwriting process.

Please note, that although the Congressional Research Service (CRS) can assist with background research for speeches, policy guidelines prohibit CRS from writing speeches for Congress.

CRS Products

CRS Report 98-170, Speechwriting in Perspective: A Brief Guide to Effective and Persuasive Communication

This CRS report on preparing and delivering effective speeches provides practical guidance tailored to the demands of speechwriting for Members of Congress.

CRS Report R44200, Finding Quotes for Speeches: Fact Sheet

This CRS fact sheet provides resources to help the user find or verify quotes for use in speeches.

Guides and Tips

Public Speaking Tips
Tips for speaking at a variety of occasions from Toastmasters International. Topics include "Speaking to Diverse Audiences" and "Successful Speeches."

The Writing Center
A guide to creating effective speeches from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Articles on Communication and Leadership
An extensive set of articles on multiple aspects of speechgiving from Westside Toastmasters. Articles include "The Art of Speechwriting: How Good Speechwriters Find Ideas that Shine."

Famous Speeches

American Rhetoric: Top 100 Speeches
This site provides the full text of famous speeches from American history.

Presidential Inaugural Addresses
A complete collection of inaugural speeches from the Bartleby site.

Grammar and Writing Resources

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Resources on writing, research, grammar, and style guides from Purdue University.

Writing@CSU
Writing guides on a variety of topics, including "Making Speeches and Presentations" and "Conducting Qualitative & Quantitative Research" from the Writing@CSU project and the Colorado State University Writing Center.

Common Errors in English Usage
An extensive list of English words and phrases that are commonly misused with explanations of the correct usage from Washington State University.

Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples
A list of classical rhetorical techniques with examples from modern and classic speeches from the University of Kentucky.

Selected Speechwriting Books from the Library of Congress Collection

These and other speechwriting books can be charged out to congressional staff with borrowing accounts in good standing:

Author Contact Information

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