Former SONA speechwriter explains how speech is created, how it should inspire

Lester Kiewit talks to Wonderboy Peters about how to inject confidence into the President’s speech during these troubled times.

Peters spent time working in government departments as well as in the presidency writing speeches.

He wrote President Cyril Ramaphosa’s famous Thuma Mina speech in 2018 when he succeeded Jacob Zuma.

Taken from the popular song by Hugh Masekela, Peters was instrumental in drafting the speech, which was actually originally intended for Jacob Zuma who left office before SONA that year.

Thuma Mina or “send me” became a speech that became famous associated with President Ramaphosa.

How do you assess the mood of a nation and put it on paper and then give it to a president to read, Lester asked?

Peters agrees that all communication occurs in a context.

There is absolutely no void. You therefore cannot enter your message directly.

Wonderboy Peters, Political Speech Writer

Before getting to the heart of the matter, one of the biggest challenges is building trust between government politicians and citizens, he says.

As speechwriters, I believe our duty is to always listen with an open heart, even to those with whom we disagree.

Wonderboy Peters, Political Speech Writer

He says it’s not just about providing a plan of action for a nation.

It has to be done creatively.

Wonderboy Peters, Political Speech Writer

It should be a call to action and inspire people to change their own situation, says Peters.

We need language, we need metaphors … anecdotes, that thing people will remember.

Wonderboy Peters, Political Speech Writer

Listen to this insightful interview on how speechwriting works below:


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