Compiled from Moishe House webinar: Near, Far, Wherever You Are: Finding Your Virtual Voice with Sarah Hurwitz – check out the recording here!

Compelling Communication

Sarah Hurwitz HeadshotSarah Hurwitz, Senior Speechwriter for President Barack Obama and Head Speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama and author of Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life — In Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There) offers her top tips for powerful and effective communication. With these ideas in mind, try a mission statement writing activity by yourself or with a group to better realize and exercise your priorities.


Meet the woman who wrote Michelle Obama's DNC speech — Sarah HurwitzPowerful & Effective Speech:

  • Tell the Truth: Your credibility depends on it! Communication should be based on the most important and helpful truth at hand. Before you ask how you can sound smart or funny, discover the deepest truth you can tell, then determine how to best tell that truth.
  • Talk Like a Person: Show your personality and sincerity by speaking the way you talk. Your audience will hear you better if you speak in your actual voice, so cut out the formal, stilted language.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: People remember stories that evoke feeling over a list of facts or adjectives. Illustrate your communication to make it vivid and memorable.

Revise, Revise, Revise:

  • Cut 10%: Whatever you’re working on, remove the 10%, the weakest or most repetitive parts.
  • Edit: Edit in a different way than how you wrote. Print it, change the font or color, just make a change that helps you read and hear the piece a little differently.
  • Structure is Key: Create a flow that makes sense. Determine the best way to organize your argument and adjust so others can follow.

Write to be Heard:

  • Practice! Say it out loud to hear yourself. Writing to be heard when you’re used to being read takes practice.
  • How do you speak best? Do you present best with notes, bullet points, improv, or fully written out? Determine the format that makes you feel most comfortable and confident.
  • Look Up: Limit your text to the top ⅔ of the page, otherwise you’ll have to look too far down to read. Having the text higher up will help you maintain eye contact and engage your audience.

What next? Write your mission statement!

With Sarah Hurwitz’ tips in mind, write a mission statement by yourself or with others to better realize and exercise your current priorities.

Discuss or Consider:

  1. What has your life been like during this pandemic? What is top of mind?
  2. What Jewish values have guided you recently? 
  3. How do you want your communities to remember your presence during this time?

Create & Share:

  1. Make a mission statement for how you’re going to show up for your community and/or for yourself right now. You can do this individually or as a group!
  2. Share out your statements and discuss how you’ll put them into action.

Stuck? Here are some great examples from our webinar:

“I will show up by being knowledgeable and spreading the truth, reassuring others with facts and beneficial actions, and showing compassion in tough times.”
“I will begin to focus on forgiveness of myself and others in this trying time. Forgiveness for myself if I am not being productive and forgiveness for others when we don’t see eye to eye.”
“I will embrace the uncertainty in our world, take things one day at a time, and remember that everything happens for a reason.”
“I will be as present as possible and help create opportunities for others to practice mindfulness.”
“I will care for myself: mind, body, & soul, friends, family, and strangers with kindness, compassion, generosity, and authenticity.”