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With the election, and (who knows?) maybe a gut-punch to democracy itself, just around the corner, it seems like the right time to get some writing advice from people who have to churn out a lot of words on demand at high velocity and with extreme precision: Speechwriters.

Scholastic gathered together a bunch of them, from Paul Begala to Bob Shrum, and boiled down their advice to a few points, explained at length here. Here’s the upshot:

  • Get to the Point — Quick!
  • Make It Look Easy
  • Make ’em Laugh
  • Get Them on Your Side
  • The Meat and Potatoes (what you actually are there to say)

There’s no writer out there who couldn’t stand to get to the point quickly and effectively while making it seem effortless. And the occasional gag never hurt anybody.