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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Boost your clout as a writer or speaker: Develop strong research skills

September is Month. If you don’t already own a card for your local public library, get one now.

Then get cards for major libraries throughout the country.

You don’t have to be a resident of Philadelphia to apply for a card at Philly’s terrific Free Library. While you’re at it, follow @FreeLibrary to learn about all the digital resources available to you.

You don’t have to be a New York City resident to apply for a card at the NY Public Library. Getting your NYPL card this is easy – and so worth it.  Be sure to follow @nypl on Twitter to get up-to-date info on reference sources (from podcasts to lists to Ask The Librarian).

Check this blog space in the days ahead for more reference tools.

Remember: Your speeches and presentations can only be as strong as the research you put into them.

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IABC regional conference: Heritage Region

The 2017 IABC Heritage Region Conference is fast approaching You can now download the complete conference brochure to review the schedule and learn more about the speakers for this year’s 4 KEYNOTES and 21 BREAKOUT SESSIONS.

Be sure to check out the schedule and explore the complete list of speakers. Join us in one of the “17 Best Places to Travel” in 2017 according to Harper’s Bazaar to:

  • LEARN from some of the best in the field
  • CONNECT through networking opportunities
  • COMMUNICATE with speakers and fellow attendees

There’s still time to register! Visit iabcheritageconference.com to take advantage of low early bird pricing through October 2.

Speechwriters: Are you working on more than one speech at a time?

Since September 1st, I have accepted seven speechwriting assignments – most due in late September or October, with one due in November.

This is a demanding load. How do I juggle seven speechwriting assignments? I don’t. I set priorities and I only work on one speech at a time.

The other speeches? I never multitask with my speechwriting research, and I even keep hard-copy files of the other speechwriting assignments completely out of sight – no distractions. That’s what desk drawers were made for!

FYI: Since September 1st, I also received other requests to write speeches on a wide variety of topics: energy, motivation, China, etc. I declined those speechwriting assignments for a range of reasons, and instead I referred those leads to experienced freelance speechwriters whose work I know well.

Look for a blog post in the coming weeks on “why I have to decline certain speechwriting assignments”.

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Are you ready to take your speechwriting to a higher level? Consider one of my individual speechwriting tutorials: Basic, Advanced, and Master levels. I custom-design the course material to meet your specific speechwriting needs/goals.

Media training: More words to avoid (Let’s shut the door on “open the kimono”)

I’m not sure why some executives say “Open the kimono” during a media interview.

I really have no idea why they use these words. But I wish they would permanently drop the phrase from all future interviews, Q&A sessions, and presentations.

In fact, it would be nice if they never uttered this phrase again. It’s so overused and so unsettling.

Think – just please think for one minute – about what they’re saying. “Open the kimono”? Of all the words in the English language, they’re choosing these three words to express their thoughts?

Enough said.

Media training: Words to avoid

Avoid repeating the host’s name.

You can say, “Thank you Jake” once – but that’s about it. Jake is not your audience. Jake’s audience is your audience. Every time you interject the host’s name, you’re weakening your connection with the real audience.

Make every second count. Sell your key messages and don’t waste a syllable.

Focus on connecting with the viewing/listening audience. Ditch time-eating, distracting interjections:

  • Well, Jake, that’s a good question
  • No, Jake, that’s not how I see it.
  • Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you this evening, Jake.
  • Here’s the number you want to remember, Jake [No.Jake isn’t the one who needs to remember this number. It’s the viewing/listening audience who needs to remember your key messages.]

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Enter Natl Assn of Govt Communicators Awards Program

Free Webinar: Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 1-2 p.m. Eastern

You’re doing terrific work this year, and one of the top awards in government communications would look beautiful on your desk. We want to help you compete for a NAGC Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award.

Find out more at our complimentary August edition of Webinar Wednesday. We’ll hear from NAGC Competitions Director S.J. Brown about what’s new for 2017, the competition process, and the benefits of recognition. SJ will also cover:

  • Who earns recognition for their work
  • What the competition looks like
  • When 2017 nominations will be accepted
  • Where to send your nomination packages
  • Why you should enter
  • How you can increase your chances of winning

NAGC’s Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards competition is one of the top government leadership competition programs in the country. Our judges see the best work being done by local, state, federal, tribal, and international communicators from every discipline: writing, design, photography, multimedia, social media, and management.

They also face some of their toughest decisions of the year: who earns first place, second place, and awards of excellence in each category. And which agency brings home the top prize of Best in Show.

Find out if your organization has what it takes to enter on our next edition of Webinar Wednesday. And, if you aren’t yet a member, take advantage of this annual cost-free presentation to learn more about NAGC, our professional development offerings, and how you can save money by activating your membership today.

Register now for “The 5 Ws and How of Winning a Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award”

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism: Nov 15 deadline for story grant proposals

Mark Your Calendar: Request for Proposals

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism (FEJ) invests in public service reporting on environment and the journalists who produce it.

November 15, 2017 (midnight local time) is the next deadline for story grant proposals to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism. FEJ grants will provide up to $5,000 to underwrite stipend for freelancers and budget lines for direct expenses like travel, multi-media production, translation, data sets or document costs.

Calling all donors: Give now to seed more stories. Grants will be awarded in January 2018 to underwrite coverage projects in three categories:

  1. Open Topic: Environmental Issues Made possible by unrestricted gifts and grants to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism.
  2. Marine and coastal issues of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans Made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
  3. Environmental issues of the Amazon and Andes Made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Winning projects will be selected by an independent jury of editors. Preference will be given to projects that include an element of international partnership: journalists and news organizations in different countries working together to report an important story and expand its reach.

Grantees retain full editorial control of FEJ-funded coverage. Donors have no right of review and no influence on story plans made possible in part by their contributions. Binding agreements between donors and the Society of Environmental Journalists and between SEJ and grantees of its Fund for Environmental Journalism reinforce this policy of editorial independence.

SEJ maintains a strict policy of confidentiality with regard to story ideas submitted. The application portal for this FEJ Winter Round of competition is now open.  Applicants will be notified of results in January 2018.

Grantees will be paid and announcements made as soon as SEJ-FEJ Grantee agreements can be finalized. Want a head start on the process? Proposal requirements will include project title, 200-word summary of topic, media dissemination plan and partnership plan (if applicable) and amount requested.

To complete your application you’ll upload PDF documents to include narrative (up to 1,000 words), qualifications, letter of support from editor(s) to publish or broadcast finished work and detailed budget.

See the FEJ guidelines for more information. Then you can fill out an online form and upload your files. Note: SEJ members pay no application fee. Non-member journalists must qualify for SEJ membership and pay online entry fee ($40USD) to apply. Find full details on the Fund for Environmental Journalism here.

Media interviews: another phrase to avoid

I heard this on a media interview a few days ago:

“You don’t look seventy.”

Some thoughts:

  1. What does seventy look like? [Who knows?]
  2. Will the phrase create value for the audience? [No]
  3. Does this line rank as a key message? [Hardly]
  4. Will the phrase contribute to the ROI of that interview? [No]
  5. Since everything has an opportunity cost, the question becomes: “Does saying this take time away from saying something more important?” [Unfortunately yes]

Time is money and time is focus. Whenever speakers use unproductive lines in media interviews, they are cutting into their own message time and blunting the focus for their audience.

Omit needless/distracting lines.

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