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Category: Pros on Prose

All That A Speech Can Say

Posted: March 30, 2018 | By:

‘There comes a time when patience is no longer a virtue.’ These seventy-year-old words hovered over the dunes during a misty run along the North Sea coast. It was a Tuesday morning in October. Green leaves turned into brown. In the silence I pondered the words Prime Minister Louis Beel solemnly spoke to the Dutch people in 1947. Words that prepared our small country for war in Indonesia — police actions as they where...

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A Proven Technique To Change More Minds

Posted: February 16, 2018 | By:

Here’s a GEICO commercial you’ll never see:

INT. OFFICE - DAY

ANNOUNCER

Our proprietary actuarial calculations help us pinpoint risk more precisely than other insurance carriers. Moreover, our efficient system of claims assessment increases the number of damaged cars our employees can inspect in a day. Finally, our automation reduces the cost of...

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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. …

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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.

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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...

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Introducing The Hot Sheet: A Great New Resource for People Who Care About Publishing

Posted: | By:

Anyone working freelance in today’s publishing industry is in a double bind. (And you can be forgiven if you feel doubly blindsided, too.)

Not only is a first-rate ghost, an editor, a freelance writer of any kind expected to be up to speed on industry issues, changes, developments, and trends, but she or he is also expected to hit deadlines and contribute the kinds of ideas that in-house teams have handed to them by their managements and support teams.

Some...

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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...

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What to Do When You Doubt Your Talent

Posted: May 26, 2017 | By:

Most great writers aren't great successes, as the world counts success. Write anyway. 

A few weeks ago* my son and I drove down to Richmond to see Americana singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle, a guy I’d heard only on the Internet. He is living the typical musician’s life, friending fans on Facebook, recording and releasing music on his own, and driving from gig to gig. He was playing...

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Five Nevers of Ghostwriting Success

Posted: May 12, 2017 | By:

Looking back over my three decades of ghostwriting, I realize that every bad client experience I had was really my own fault. In each case, I ignored the flashing red warning signs. I’m not claiming that these rules are absolute for every ghostwriter, nor that they will protect you in every case. I only hope that my five “nevers” may be a useful guide to other ghostwriters.

 

  1. Never Agree to Work with a Client After You Say You Won’t
...

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It’s Not as Bad as You Think

Posted: May 5, 2017 | By:

In America, we engage in frivolous rhetoric because we can afford to. That’s not a boast. That’s a failure of character. It's along these lines: The comedian Chris Rock said, “If a homeless person has a funny sign, he hasn’t been homeless that long. A real homeless person is too hungry to be funny.”

I say a nation that was really hurting for themselves or others wouldn’t spend any time calling the other half names. They’d get serious and do whatever it...

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