In this column, professional speechwriter Chandler Dean provides partly satirical, partly genuine “How To” advice focused on a hyper-specific subcategory of speeches—from graduation speeches to wedding toasts to eulogies, and all the rhetorical occasions in between.

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It’s an odd thing that we make our election losers do. You don’t have to give a speech when you lose at an award ceremony, or when you don’t get the promotion you were up for, or when you just barely miss the cut for the wedding party. The closest opportunity you get to uplift and inspire in those scenarios is when you gossip about it with your partner on the car ride home. And tragically, that’s rarely televised.

But run for office, and not only are you expected to give a highly public speech in the face of the biggest failure of your career, but you have to do it like fifteen minutes after you find out. You don’t get to take a big long walk where you cry it out or anything. It’s a true test of humility and discipline, and the irony is that anyone who would be really good at meeting this kind of moment probably deserved to win.

But you didn’t. So here’s what you should do:

Write a concession speech!

I know. You don’t think you’re going to lose. Or you can’t bear the thought long enough to put pen to paper. That’s fine. If you don’t want to do it, have your speechwriter do it. If your speechwriter doesn’t want to do it, they can pawn it off to some hungry junior staffer who is already working on their self-mythologizing tell-all memoir about the time their country called upon them to write this concession speech.

But you’ve gotta have something, if only because of the age-old speechwriterly superstition that the day you don’t have a concession speech ready is the day that you’ll need one. (This truism comes courtesy of Democratic strategist and concession speech expert Bob Shrum, who advised would-be presidents Ed Muskie, George McGovern, Ted Kennedy, Dick Gephardt, Michael Dukakis, Bob Kerrey, Al Gore, and John Kerry. So take it with a grain of Shrum.)

In your concession speech, don’t forget to concede the election.

You’d be surprised how often people miss this part.

Mention the phone call you had with your opponent, if only so we can visualize the awkwardness.

It’s not like there’s a constitutional requirement that one candidate officially acknowledges the legitimacy of the other’s victory—some of us learned that the hard way. Nevertheless, there’s something definitive and stabilizing about knowing that this conversation has happened.

And admittedly, it is fun to think about how weird and stilted that call has to be. Once you’ve done it, how do you get out of it? Is it the winner or the loser’s responsibility to say “All right, I’mma let you go” after the first awkward silence? It was a lot easier in 1896, when the first-ever public concession was made by William Jennings Bryan to William McKinley via telegram:

“Senator Jones has just informed me that the returns indicate your election, and I hasten to extend my congratulations. We have submitted the issue to the American people and their will is law.”

A profoundly consequential concession delivered with all the emotion and dramatic flair of bottled water nutrition facts. If we’re lucky, we may live to see the concession call revert to this level of pomp and circumstance when Vivek Ramaswamy sends Gretchen Whitmer a thumbs-up emoji in November 2028.

Wish your opponent well, and make sure that any digs you make at their expense are in a completely separate sentence.

As difficult as this loss may feel, it is accompanied by one of the world’s easiest oratory layups: the opportunity to say something nice to your opponent even though you are very sad. If you’ve ever wanted to be called “classy”—a label which is almost as gratifying as “winner”—now’s your chance.

You don’t even really have to compliment them. When Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump, she chose her words carefully: “I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.” Now that’s how you concede to a guy you hate without contradicting the fact that you hate him. It’s a simple statement of fact: she hopes his presidency is not terrible! She might as well have said, “It would be good news if this man does not single-handedly destroy the planet.” But it goes to show that even the lightest of conciliatory gestures can signal the maturity we expect in our leaders.

And besides, you’ll have plenty of chances to say, “I told you so,” when whoever won inevitably screws up.

Pledge to work with your opponent on the issues where you have common ground, even though you just spent the last year arguing passionately that your opponent is a maniac with whom there is no common ground.

This is one of my favorite clichés of the concession speech genre. I love imagining a senator working into the wee hours of the night on a problem facing their constituents, and saying to themselves, “You know who I should call for advice? The person who recently dedicated a decent chunk of their time on Earth to portraying me as an existential threat to humankind.”

But make the pledge anyway. It’s like paying the bill when you go out to dinner with a rich friend. You’re not gonna do it, but you still have to offer.

As soon as you can, pivot to addressing your supporters and everyone watching.

It may be called a concession speech, but the concession part is really just the opening. And your opponent isn’t paying attention; they’re too busy getting ready to deliver their way-more-fun victory speech. So, most of these remarks will be directed toward the people who supported your campaign—people who are experiencing crushing disappointment and are looking for guidance about what to do next. So:

Take down the temperature.

You’ve been sending emails and texts about how this is the single most important election in the history of democracy; you’ve been appearing on TV making impassioned pleas for viewers not to trust the Machiavellian schemes of your opponent; you’ve assembled an army of staffers and volunteers who have uprooted their lives to serve your needs. And now it’s your job to convince all of those people that your loss is not that big of a deal.

In some cases, this might seem impossible. In the late hours of Election Night 1960, when Richard Nixon tried to acknowledge the impending victory of John F. Kennedy, the audience responded with various combinations of “No!,” “No! No!,” and “We want Nixon.” Forty-eight years later, John McCain needed only to mention Barack Obama’s name to trigger loud, stifling boos from his crowd of supporters. But both men proceeded with the difficult yet necessary work of calling for unity—and holding their palms in a “stop” position as if to say, “Guys, calm the hell down. I was exaggerating when I previously portrayed my young Democratic opponent as the devil incarnate.”

From there:

Express gratitude to everyone who fought so hard to prevent this moment from happening.

No doubt there will be far more people to thank than you’ll have time to list, but even hitting the broadest categories of your supporters will help them feel as if this campaign wasn’t a complete waste of time.

You know how there’s that secret rule of grammar that adjectives go in the order “opinion-size-age-shape-color-origin-material-purpose noun”? There’s a similar rule for who gets priority when you’re thanking people. From top to bottom, it goes “Wife-God-Mom-staff-Dad-volunteers-dog-cat-hamster-kids-donors-Jeffrey Epstein.”

Lay out your vision one more time before you disappear into the abyss of irrelevance.

For this last, fleeting moment, the cameras are still on you and reporters are still writing down what you have to say. So whatever causes you champion most ardently, whatever messages your campaign was most committed to conveying, whatever fundamental values matter most in your mind, this could be the last time you’ll have an audience this big for them—so speak now or forever hold your TPs.

Ultimately, you might just be able to do your victory speech with a few tweaks.

Plenty of people remember Barack Obama’s pivotal “Yes We Can” speech from the 2008 presidential primary. But fewer remember that he gave that speech in the wake of a loss in the New Hampshire primary. It has all the trappings of a triumphant victory address—including reflections on how far the campaign had come, observations about the people-powered movement that made that progress possible, and a vision for what his presidency would mean for America—all preceded by just a small bit of housekeeping at the beginning congratulating Hillary Clinton on actually winning the contest.

It may be the most impactful concession speech of all time. It’s certainly the only one that got turned into a song. And its success is predicated on an unapologetic doubling down on the themes of the campaign.

Of course, this approach is easier when you lose a single primary and you’re getting another shot in ten days instead of four years. But assuming that you are going to keep fighting for what you believe in and not just retreat to your secret politician bunker for the rest of your days—or, for that matter, your kitesurfing getaway island with Richard Branson—no loss is definitive.

So you may as well do what you always set out to do: make your case for the world you want to live in.