How to Hold a Demonstration

You will notice, dearies, that I’m not the one holding rallies, so I say this with a great deal of respect for those who do. In the past few months, I—like you—have been to a few demonstrations. They’re home-grown affairs that don’t have the major speakers of a big city, but I would like to talk a bit about the need for powerful speaking at rallies everywhere.

Rabble rousing is a skill I haven’t thought of much—and in fact, I’m using this post to get the size of it. But I gather it requires a person to be a combination emcee, cheerleader, and preacher. When you have a crowd that’s assembled for action, you have to put them in action—especially if they’ve gathered in the cold. Use call and response. Elicit cheers—they want to cheer. Get them to sing—if it’s the right song, they will. Project. Enunciate. Be willing to improvise—especially if there’s a counter demonstration. Use short sentences—or at least don’t use long ones. Or if you need a long sentence, stitch it together with litany. Deploy litany anyway, if you can do it judiciously. Adopt a turn of phrase. Walk the line between substance and slogan. Speak subject first, so people don’t have to remember the bulk of your sentence until they find out who you’re talking about. Use gestures. Believe what you say. Build to a crescendo that releases to a march.

What you say doesn’t have to be long. But it should be pithy enough and vivid enough for the protestors to carry it with them.

That’s what I think.

(Originally posted February 6, 2017)

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