Good Writers Don’t…
... write "less" when "fewer" is called for, or "farther" when "further" is needed, or "hopefully" at all—even though these distinctions don't matter to anybody except other writers and people who shop at Whole Foods. (Good writers care about the opinion of other good writers.)
... call moments "special," utter the term "adult beverage," congratulate the birthday boy for being "90 years young," describe everything that's amusing as...
How to Operate Your Speechwriter
Every year, the Professional Speechwriting Association surveys our members—on job satisfaction, on salary trends, on trends and concerns in the business. This year, we asked simply, "What Do Speechwriters Want?"
If speechwriters could get more out of their careers than they're getting, what would it be? It would be everything, we learned. Speechwriters want...
If you want to hire a writer, get a writer to write the ad
The company is advertising for a writing job, but it lets HR goons write the job description.
And so the company seeks a writer who is a "self-starter with ability to work independently and juggle multiple projects and deadlines." Because nothing motivates a writer like the promise of lonely desperation.
The company further specifies that it needs someone who is "responsive and focused on executing in a fast-paced...
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...
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...
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.