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5 Storytelling Skills Zelenskyy Aced in his Congressional Address

Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to congress in December has been widely acclaimed for many reasons. Here are five key storytelling skills he aced.

1. He perfectly tailored it to his audience.

He delivered the entire address in English, which is not his native language, and used American references repeatedly. In his Christmastime address he said, “The Russians are throwing everything against us, similar to how the other tyranny threw everything it had against the free world in the Battle of the Bulge. Just like the brave American soldiers held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944, brave Ukranian soldiers are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas.”

2. He told his audience why he cares and why they should to.

I know that everything depends on us, on Ukrainian armed forces, yet so much in the world depends on you. When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe, and the world at the cost of their lives. They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators whose decisions can save millions of people. Let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen. This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war. We stand, we fight, and we will win because we are united— Ukraine, America, and the entire free world.”

3. He roused his audiences’ emotions to ensure his message sticks.

“In two days, we will celebrate Christmas. We’ll celebrate Christmas even if there is no electricity. Millions won’t have heating or running water. All of these will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on our energy infrastructure. But we do not complain. We do not judge and compare whose life is easier. Your well-being is the product of your national security, the result of your struggle for independence and your many victories. We, Ukrainians, will also go through our war of independence and freedom with dignity and success. The light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out. And millions of Ukrainians, wish the same: Victory. Only victory.”

4. He personalized his message so every listener feels like he is talking to them.

“I thank every American family who I know cherishes the warmth of their home and wishes the same warmth to other people. I thank President Biden and both parties, at the Senate and the House, for your invaluable assistance. I thank your cities and your citizens who supported Ukraine this year, who hosted our Ukrainians, our people, who waved our national flags, who acted to help us. Thank you all, from everyone who is now at the front line and from everyone who is awaiting victory.”

5. His message had a clear takeaway: timing is of the essence.

“This battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored, hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection. The world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and at the same time to feel safe when such a battle continues.”


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