Are you ready to take the leap and become your troop’s next SPL? If you’re up for the responsibility and running in your troop’s next senior patrol leader election, an epic speech may just be your ticket to victory! In this article, I’m going to be sharing with you the most powerful tricks I’ve learned on how to deliver a memorable speech and crush your upcoming SPL election.
What should a SPL speech include? An ideal SPL speech will be around 2-4 minutes long and describe your experience in the troop, as well as your plans for the future. By speaking clearly, explaining why you’re uniquely qualified to become the next SPL, and humorously inspiring your troop, you’ll have a great shot at pulling ahead of the competition.
Presenting an amazing speech is only a small step toward becoming your troop’s next senior patrol leader. For a full walkthrough on how to become your troop’s next SPL, check out my full guide on How To Win A Senior Patrol Leader Election!
As around 25% of most SPL election’s votes go to the scout with the strongest message, your speech is still incredibly important. While a great speech won’t automatically win you the election, a poor speech might just be the reason why you lose. Now that you know the stakes, don’t worry! After this article, you’ll also know the keys to delivering a killer speech and be ready to crush your upcoming election.
Content of Your SPL Speech
As I mentioned in my article (earlier link) on how to win an SPL election, your speech should be the right mix of inspiring, funny, and actionable. There are 3 main things to keep in mind:
- You’ll want to paint a great future for the troop in your vision as SPL.
- You’ll want to make your fellow scouts laugh so that they remember you as likable.
- You’ll want your ideas to be understood as relateable but powerful.
Here’s an example of a funny high school election speech (2:16) that does a lot of things right:
When you’re planning your own SPL speech, I’d suggest focusing more on your message, while still including some of the humor and jokes used by this guy.
How can you put all of this into practice? The first and most important thing to do is decide on your message. Your message is the north star that guides your SPL speech. To find your message, think to yourself, what can I give back to my troop if I’m voted in as SPL?
Choosing Your Message
For some scouts, the answer to this may be creating a more fun atmosphere at troop meetings. Other scouts may want to grow the troop or win more competitions at summer camps. Find your own message of what you can give back to your troop, and build your speech around that central pillar.
Here are some examples of messages that you can frame your speech around:
- Helping scouts earn more merit badges and complete rank requirements during meetings
- Creating more leadership opportunities for scouts to practice valuable skills
- Scheduling more time during camps to have fun and do cool activities
- Organizing troop excursions to new places
- Planning in-troop competitions that give both younger and older scouts the opportunity to learn new skills
The trick is to honestly ask yourself what you’re able to do that may help the scouts in your troop. Write your message down in a few short sentences once something comes to mind.
Be careful not to include multiple messages in your speech, as this may become confusing to the audience. Instead, spend your time focusing on one key topic. Once you have your message noted down, you’re ready to move on to the next step!
What Makes You Special?
After deciding on a message, the second part of your senior patrol leader speech is YOU. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Why do you want to become your troop’s next SPL?
- What experiences have you had that will allow you to succeed as a SPL?
Take the time to quickly write down your answers to these questions.
In a senior patrol leader speech, you’re basically selling yourself to your troop. That’s why you’ll need to know the answers to these questions about yourself. Your goal is to make each and every scout in the audience certain that if they elect you, you’ll be capable of handling the responsibilities of a SPL.
Make sure that each of your points are concise and easy to understand. Really, each one should be more than 3 sentences long. Once you have these three things figured out: your message, why you want to be SPL, and why you’re qualified to be SPL, you’re ready to begin crafting your election-winning speech!
Scripting Your SPL Speech
No matter how good your speech might be, if you’re reading it off a sheet of paper, no one will take you seriously. By speaking confidently and relying on a few, if any, notes, you demonstrate to your troop that you’re a leader they can trust in and depend on.
While you definitely don’t want to write your speech out word for word, you’ll still want to have a general idea of what you’re going to be saying at all times. This is where notes can come in handy, especially if you haven’t had much practice delivering speeches in the past.
To strike the right balance, I’d recommend you hold a small 3×5 notecard containing your main bullet points during your speech. While you should have the flow of your speech memorized, this small note card will help if you ever need a prompt.
I know that speech writing isn’t easy, so in the section below I’m going to be showing you an example of a full SPL speech, as well as how I would break the speech down into manageable sections for your notes.
“You know what I love? Seeing scouts not earn their Eagle because they’re not given enough troop support in meetings and activities! Just kidding. On a serious note, I see a big issue in this troop with scouts not having enough opportunities to complete their rank requirements or earn their merit badges. If elected as your next SPL, I intend to change that.
My name is Cole, I’m a Life Scout who’s been with this troop for five years now, and I know that we can do better. I believe that each and every one of you should earn your Eagle rank, and that it should also be the responsibility of the troop to make that happen.
After leading many successful patrols in the past and recently completing NYLT, I’m now qualified and motivated to lead our troop as your next SPL. I know that if I’m elected, by planning merit badge clinics and scheduling time to work on rank requirements, we’ll not only be able to have more fun activities, we’ll also complete our goals of becoming Eagle Scouts!
I want to become your SPL so that we can make this happen. I’ll help the younger scouts learn more and rank up faster, and help the older scouts more easily earn their required badges. Together we can make this change. Are you with me?”
While you can be more creative and humorous in your own speech, remember that your message should be clear and impactful. In my example, my message was that I would use meetings and activities to help scouts complete rank requirements, earn merit badges, and finish their Eagle. Here’s how I’d be scripting my main points:
- You know what I love? (Seeing Scouts not earning badges) Kidding, as SPL I’ll change that.
- Introduce self, troop’s responsibility to help each of you earn your eagles
- Experience: PL, NYLT. As SPL I’ll plan troop meetings and activities to help you rank up and earn badges
- What I’ll do for younger scouts, what I’ll do for older scouts, ask for vote.
While this is what you might write on your notecard, you should also know the main messages behind what you’re saying. Here are the same points as above, this time outlining the messages behind each paragraph.
- Present the issue of scouts not having the opportunity to earn merit badges and rank up
- Introduction, my credentials, and plan as SPL
- More credentials, details of plan, largest benefit of message
- Why I’m running, benefit for younger scouts, benefit for older scouts; ask for their vote.
For a few more quick tips on how you should script your SPL speech, check out the short (2:27) video below:
Delivery of Your SPL Speech
When presenting your SPL speech to your troop, confidence is everything. More than 2/3 of communication is done nonverbally, so you’ll want to be saying that you’d be a great SPL through your body language as well!
The only way to build confident body language is through practice. I’d recommend delivering your speech at least three times before the election.
- First, practice by yourself in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone.
- Second, practice in front of friends or family and ask for their feedback.
- Third, while trying to use their feedback, practice in front of friends and family one more time.
You’d be surprised by how much of a difference a little bit of practice can make. You don’t want to be the scout that freezes up in the middle of their speech and leaves everyone in the audience super uncomfortable. Instead, practice and you’ll quickly become much more confident.
Here are some other quick tips to keep in mind:
- Make the beginning and end of your speech the strongest parts to grab the audience’s attention
- Speak a bit more loudly than you think you should (Strong voice)
- Speak a bit more slowly than you think you should (Speak clearly)
- Stand up tall with your shoulders pulled back and keep your hands out of your pockets (Confident body language)
- Smile and relax, you’ll do great! (Positive self-talk)
Before it’s your turn to speak, take three deep breaths and then tell yourself, “I’ve got this.” I know it’s nerve-racking to publicly speak, I’ve been there too, but you’re going to be great!
For more tips on speech delivery, I’ve found a great video (8:53) that breaks down an example of a strong speech. Then, shows you how to use those techniques during your own presentations:
While there’s no secret hack for instantly delivering an amazing speech, there are still ways that you can intelligently prepare. By following these tips, you’ll have a strong chance of presenting the best speech and being elected as your troop’s next SPL!
To recap: First, define your message. Then, script your speech through bullet points. Finally, practice your speech at least 3 times and ask for feedback from friends and family. With just a little bit of preparation, you’ll find yourself miles ahead of the competition!
Presenting a great speech is only one part of winning an SPL election. If you haven’t yet seen my guide to being elected as your troop’s next SPL, I’d highly recommend you check it out. Also, once you’re elected, check out my full leadership guide for new SPL’s here!
Best of luck in the election! I know you’ve got this. 🙂