Ghosts: A Thing of the Past?
Six years ago I helped a young Army officer who was dying of cancer to write his memoir. The first edition, published by Beaver's Pond Press, had my name on the cover, because that's what the author and I felt was most honest. When Random House bought the rights, they wanted me off the cover on account of people look askance at an as-told-to book.
Caring about book sales the most, I readily agreed to this change. Unfortunately the author...
Why Are Speakers Afraid of Speechwriters?
At a Professional Speechwriters Association seminar in Chicago last week, another speechwriter asked me: How do I animate and effervesce my wooden, flat speaker?
Bring in a speaking coach, I told her.
I'm sick of telling speechwriters that.
Speaking coaches can polish a rough speaker, but teaching a stiff speaker to act animated is like tying ropes...
What Makes A Political Speech Boring?
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio isn’t pleased with the speeches he is reading, we learn from recently released City Hall emails, reported in the New York Post.
Who’s to blame? De Blasio’s speechwriters, he says. From the Post:
In particular, de Blasio raged at underlings after a speech about his Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City that apparently had his audience paying more attention to their watches than to him. …
Your CEO Needs You
It’s not a complaint one often hears about CEOs. But when it comes to CEO communication, it’s true: CEOs don’t know what they want.
I know this now.
And it’s useful knowledge to have.
I spent two straight days (and two serious nights) with some of the leading executive communication thinkers, practitioners and researchers at the CEO Communication Summit, convened by the Professional Speechwriters Association last week in Montreal.
Speechwriters Are the Serious Ones
Some speechwriters might have resented it when I criticized Jon Favreau and Lovett for what I saw as the glib, snarky style the former Obama speechwriters showed on an appearance on The Stephen Colbert Show, back in April.
Does the head of the Professional Speechwriters Association condemn his flock to the back pasture? Once a speechwriter, always a monk—is that it?
My thinking on the...
Remind Them What They Know: Speechwriting when everything has already been said
“People need to be reminded,” said Samuel Johnson, “more often than they need to be instructed.”
Commencement speakers struggle to come up with a speech, when “everything’s already been said.” Keynote speakers wonder what they can tell people that "they don't already know."
But everything hasn’t been said by you, at this moment in history, to the audience gathered today.
And more importantly: Whatever...
You, me, and RFK
I took a Robert Kennedy biography on spring break, and all I got was six lousy insights on speechwriting.
The Speechwriter’s Pipe Dream: Writing Our Own Job Description
In this space a couple of weeks ago, an outsider might have thought speechwriters were complaining about the unreasonable—or unreasonably numerous—demands that organizations place on them.
As a speechwriter these days, “you write, you relationship, you gap-fill, you verify,” I quoted a speechwriter as saying. “Thinking, reading, expanding, learning is done on your...
To slip the surly bonds of speechwriting
You're doing your job. But are you doing your job?
As we read every week in The Executive Communication Report, executive commuincation professonals are hired to "prepare speeches and other communication materials for senior executives."
Some exec comms pros see their jobs as bigger than that. They think they should slip the surly bonds of C-suite messaging, and...
The Spooky Side of Stories
One of the few downsides of being immersed in rhetorical theory every day all day is that the amorality of it gets on your clothing, and you have to wash it off.
Speechwriters know that audiences are persuaded by various techniques whether they're employed by defenders of democracy or demagogues—or demagogues posing as defenders of democracy. As we've relearned through the collapse of the story-fueled reputation of the med-tech firm...