Mayors – Here’s How to Deliver an Effective State of the City Address

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For many mayors, the start of the new year means it’s time to deliver their annual State of the City address, a speech which reviews the previous year’s accomplishments and sets the policy agenda for the year ahead.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto delivers his annual State of the City address on January 26, 2016. (photo: Pittsburgh City Paper)

Your State of the City address has great potential to both inform your community and rally them to action – and success, of course, depends on the quality of your speech and its delivery. To aid in that effort, National League of Cities (NLC) has developed a new guide, “How to Deliver an Effective State of the City Address.Here’s a brief overview:

Developing Content

A good speech owes as much to the research as it does the writing. No rhetorical device can make up for a lack of substance. The time before the speech is delivered is a critical moment when arguments should be crafted, statistics assembled, and personal anecdotes collected.

Mayors should also decide on a central theme for their speeches, which helps listeners follow along. Before writing your speech, consider the headline you want to see in your local newspaper the following morning. This will help determine the key messages you want to deliver.

Drafting Your Speech

In addition to developing the content of your speeches, NLC’s how-to guide helps you structure your State of the City address by providing examples from past speeches delivered by other mayors. A speech of this type should contain five critical components: an attention grabber, a problems section, a solutions section, a visualization of how the solutions will help, and a call-to-action. From introduction to body to conclusion, our guide will help you craft a complete and persuasive argument.

Delivering the Address

State of the City speeches increase government transparency, helping local leaders connect with constituents, network with businesses, and tout accomplishments of the region. To resonate with your audience, you must know its particular needs and interests. Be sure to address them in your speech with the correct tone and substantive arguments. Finally, remember that you are writing for the ear – practice your speech aloud to make sure it sounds good and fits your presentation style.

View NLC’s full guide here.

Trevor Langan 125x150About the author: Trevor Langan is the Research Associate for City Solutions and Applied Research at the National League of Cities.