Skip to Content?

Latest From The Blog

Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
View the latest blog posts below or choose from the categories in the right menu.
Subscribe to RSS Feed

Back to school means … book reports, book presentations, book talks

Remember: Literacy is more than reading.

Does your local school teach the students how to become literate in every way? Reading and writing, yes, but also speaking?

Public speaking gets left out of many classroom agendas. Too often, it’s “handled” by English classes. But students deserve learning opportunities to speak in all subject areas: math, science, social studies … if it’s important enough to teach, it’s important enough for students to talk about.

On #BackToSchool night, ask how your school helps students build confidence through presentation skills. If students feel nervous about speaking in front of a class (and they do!), it’s our schools’ responsibility to help each child gain confidence as a speaker … and as a young person who has the right to speak up.

YOU MEAN I HAVE TO STAND UP AND SAY SOMETHING? (author Joan Detz, publisher Atheneum)

School Library Journal: “This lighthearted and highly readable book is packed full of practical hints for surmounting that most feared hurdle, the public speech.”

Manage your time

Writing a speech? Rehearsing a presentation?

Set a clear timeline, and hold yourself accountable. Hold everyone else accountable, too.

For a long term speechwriting assignment, a weekly check-in might work. For a short term speechwriting assignment, check daily to reassess goals and monitor progress.

Rehearsals require strict time management. Why? Because you have multiple participants (speaker, speechwriter, AV team, teleprompter operator, interpreters, perhaps someone from legal, perhaps someone from HR). Plus, you’re getting down to the wire!  That speech/presentation has to be given at a specific time and place – no extensions.

If you start the rehearsal late, or if the speaker wants to rewrite half the speech (I’ve seen rehearsals that spent more time on re-writing than practicing) … well, you all lose (including the audience, who was hoping for a well prepared presentation).

Public speaking: Bridge the English-as-second-language gap

Presenting in English to an audience that uses English as a second language?

Three tips:

  1. Pause more often.
  2. Speak a bit slower.
  3. Using interpreters? Pause even more often so both interpreters and audiences can catch up with your message. And speak even slower. (Your interpreters will appreciate your professionalism, and it will be easier for your audience to get your message.)

Spanish translation of HOW TO WRITE & GIVE A SPEECH (St Martin’s Press). Spanish edition publisher, Alba Editorial of Barcelona Spain. Translator, Elena Bernardo Gil. Author, Joan Detz

Quote from a special occasion speech: The dedication of a building

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life – the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” (Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, 1977) … from his remarks at the dedication of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building

How to edit your own writing

Here’s a good reference book, described as “the essential guide to prose revision” …

Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing

The front cover reads: “The one book that shows you how to make what you say as good as what you mean” – all written with one-syllable words.

It’s an excellent learning tool for any writer who wants to get better.

Author: Claire Kehrwald Cook

Copyright: Modern Language Association of America

Joan’s tech tips: Communicate their way

Good communication is not about what you want to say.

Good communication is about what the other person wants/needs to hear. More important, it’s how the other person wants/needs to hear from you.

You’ll be more successful when your communication styles match.


If someone emails you to request information, email the information. Don’t waste their time by interrupting their day with a phone call. They don’t want a call. They want an email with the necessary info.

If someone phones and asks you to call back, call back … unless you want to send a clear signal that you wish to limit the interaction.  Quite often, limiting interaction is the wise communication choice. If that’s the case, reply with a short courteous email (it will save your time – and theirs). Or, when necessary, simply don’t respond. They’ll get the message.

If someone texts you and requires an immediate response, then text back prompty. Absolutely do not bother them with a phone call.

Summary: Do not bother people with unrequested, or unnecessary, or unwanted phone calls. There’s a reason people choose to text or email you. Pretty much, that reason is: “I don’t want to waste time. Let’s keep this short.”

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It by Joan Detz

“Fresh advice … keen insights … short, memorable lessons. A pithy manual … an excellent tool.” (Publishers Weekly)

Joan’s Tech Tips: An occasional series of quirky tips for anyone who has to communicate

Now: two Chinese editions of How To Write & Give A Speech

About two years ago, St Martin’s Press did a contract for the Mainland China edition of How To Write & Give A Speech. That Chinese edition (with simplified characters) has just been published in Mainland China. I don’t have my author’s copy yet, but when I get the book, I’ll post and share the details.

Now: A few weeks ago, St Martin’s Press sold a new Chinese language edition that will be published in Taiwan (with traditional characters). The upcoming Taiwan edition will offer Chinese rights worldwide (excluding Mainland China).

Speechwriting and public speaking are global skills. I’m grateful to the translators who have made – and are still making – How To Write & Give A Speech available in multiple languages.

If you care about newspapers

Many hotels offer free digital access to newspapers during your stay. Other hotels across the USA offer print copies of local newspapers and/or national newspapers, maybe USA Today.

Don’t take any of this for granted.

Let your hotels know you value free/easy access to newspapers.

In particular, let hotels know you value local newspapers. Speak up for local journalism while it’s still here.

Local journalism matters – everywhere.

Philadelphia’s “Cellicon Valley”

Monday, June 3 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Philadelphia has become an epicenter of novel medical research, and it is now known as “Cellicon Valley” based on its historic and innovative R&D activities and milestones.

The Monday June 3 tour will visit some of the leading R&D-focused organizations in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood, located just 15 minutes from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Explore Pennovation Center, Schuylkill Yards, and the uCity Square: University City Science Center, CIC & BioLabs@CIC. Pennovation .

Science, bio, and tech writers: Learn about “Cellicon Valley”  – and keep on top of new developments in your own city, as well.

Writers write

Quote from poet Donna Hilbert:

“One of the most annoying questions I field from non-writers is ‘Are you still writing?’ Might as well ask if I’m still breathing.”

Writers write. That’s what we do. And many of us pretty much want to do it forever.

It’s who we are.

Page 1 of 13512345...102030...Last »