Gotham
Ghostwriters

BLOG
ARCHIVE

Author: David Murray

Ghosts: A Thing of the Past?

Posted: May 18, 2018 | By:

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...

[Read More]


Why Are Speakers Afraid of Speechwriters?

Posted: January 29, 2018 | By:

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...

[Read More]


What Makes A Political Speech Boring?

Posted: January 15, 2018 | By:

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. …

[Read More]


Your CEO Needs You

Posted: June 23, 2017 | By:

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.

[Read More]


Speechwriters Are the Serious Ones

Posted: June 9, 2017 | By:

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...

[Read More]


Remind Them What They Know: Speechwriting when everything has already been said

Posted: June 2, 2017 | By:

“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...

[Read More]


You, me, and RFK

Posted: April 28, 2017 | By:

I took a Robert Kennedy biography on spring break, and all I got was six lousy insights on speechwriting.

Actually, not lousy at all, thanks to author Evan Thomas's understanding of leadership communication—how it works, and how it doesn't. This is what I learned from Robert Kennedy: His Life

[Read More]


The Speechwriter’s Pipe Dream: Writing Our Own Job Description

Posted: March 24, 2017 | By:

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...

[Read More]


To slip the surly bonds of speechwriting

Posted: January 27, 2017 | By:

David Murray

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...

[Read More]


The Spooky Side of Stories

Posted: November 20, 2016 | By:

David Murray

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...

[Read More]