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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Get writing tips on Twitter @JoanDetz

Looking for quick writing tips?

I tweet often about:
#reference sources
#HTWGAS #HowToWriteAndGiveASpeech
#multicultural audiences
#international speechwriting
#PPT #PowerPoint

… so you can learn a lot on Twitter @JoanDetz

Foreign Book Covers

Coming soon … the Chinese edition

Good advice for advertising & good advice for speechwriting

I’ve long admired advertising genius David Ogilvy. When I was in the account executive training program at Wells Rich Greene Advertising in NYC, I tried to learn as much as possible about communication.

And one thing I learned? Heed David Ogilvy.

Here’s an Ogilvy quote I’ve used as a mantra for my speechwriting business:

“Some agencies pander to the craze for doing everything in committee. They boast about ‘teamwork’. But no team can write an advertisement …”

My paraphrase:

“No committee can write a speech.”

I’ve seen speechwriting-by-committee: it doesn’t produce a distinctive voice for the speaker, and it wastes a whole lot of time.


Endorsement for online speechwriting tutorial

“By far, this was the best writing course I’ve ever taken.

I was extremely impressed with Joan’s approach to speechwriting training. She customized the material to fit my needs, provided constructive feedback along the way, and made me feel like I was her only client.

She’s a teacher, mentor, and coach rolled into one.

I can honestly say I feel less frustrated and more confident in my speechwriting skills now – thanks to Joan.”

[US federal agency speechwriter, Washington DC]


How will you boost your writing career this week?

Start every Monday by asking “What will I do to boost my writing career this week?”

You have many options:

* Sign up for a webinar
* Polish your LinkedIn profile
* Join a professional organization (I’ll encourage you to join the American Society of Journalists and Authors. ASJA is the nation’s oldest and largest society for professional nonfiction writers. It’s truly a fine group.)
* Make one networking call
* Ask a client for a written recommendation of your writing services (It’s essential to get blurbs from a range of clients, industries, geographical areas.)
* On Twitter, follow a writing organization from another country
* Tweet at least once about the writing you’re doing this week (How else will potential employers learn about your skills/talents? What better way for prospective clients to discover your communications expertise?)

Do something.

It’s your writing career. Invest in it.

Foreign Book Covers

Coming soon: the Chinese edition of HOW TO WRITE & GIVE A SPEECH (both e-book and paper)

From the Authors Guild … Understand the algorithm-driven economy

If you live near NYC, Harper’s Magazine and the Authors Guild invite you to join us for a special discussion, Q&A, and signing with Maurice E. Stucke and Ariel Ezrachi, authors of the new book Virtual Competition: The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy. Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of the Authors Guild, will moderate.

November 14, 2016
7:00 pm
Book Culture, 450 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

Writing by committee …

Some wise words from advertising genius David Ogilvy:

“Much of the messy advertising you see on TV is the product of committees. Committees can criticize advertisements, but they should never be allowed to create them.”

Ditto for speeches:

Committees can critique speeches, but they should never be allowed to write them.

Years ago I worked on a convention speech that was written by a committee of about ten. (I was the only writer in the group – the rest came from sales, manufacturing, marketing or HR.) Two words can sum up that speechwriting experience: Never again.

stack of books

Changing your presentation: When is it too late?

In theory, it’s never too late. You can make changes to your presentation anytime. But – and this is a big but – changes always present a cost.

Sometimes changes pose a financial cost:
* rush fees for a graphic designer to fix your PowerPoint
* rush fees for a speechwriter to rewrite your notes
* higher costs to rent rehearsal space
* higher production rates
* the need for additional proofreading

Sometimes changes pose an opportunity cost:
* What could you be doing if you weren’t making your 11th change? (What should you be doing?)
* Does changing the content mean you’ll have less time for rehearsals?
* Could redesigning your PPT take away from Q&A preparation?
* Do ongoing changes hurt staff morale?
* Do last-minute changes introduce errors/typos?

Whether it’s a financial cost or an opportunity cost: Either way, you’ll pay.
And the later you make those changes, the more they will cost. Beware night-before rewrites.

The best way to avoid changes? Plan. If you plan your presentation carefully, you’ll be less likely to require last-minute changes.

Always prepare an outline before you script your remarks or do your PowerPoint. The more you understand your content and your audience, the more you can remain in control of your presentation.

As a speaker, ask yourself, “How much am I willing to sacrifice for hasty changes? Money? Quality? Frustration? Lost sleep? Less rehearsal time?”

Yes, errors absolutely do need to be fixed. Other items? Not so much.

Foreign Book Covers

How to Write  Give a Speech smallforhomepage

Are you ready for your next Q&A session?

I just finished coaching a client for a big Q&A session. In particular, I focused on coaching the executive to improve his question-and-answer skills with international audiences.

The a-ha moment for my speaker was: “Preparing for a Q&A takes at least as much work as preparing to give a major presentation.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Allocate your preparation time accordingly. Don’t skimp on Q&A practice. (FYI: The more diverse your audience, the sharper your skills have to be. Content alone won’t suffice … you’ll need multicultural communication skills to save the day.)

Right from the beginning, budget time for Q&A practice each time you rehearse your presentation. Don’t wait until the last minute to think about the questions you might get.

Need help? This book has a detailed section on Q&A sessions – and you can borrow it widely from public libraries:

How to Write  Give a Speech smallforhomepage

2017 ASJA conference (I’ve already marked my calendar)

Keynotes Announced for ASJA’s 46th Annual Writers Conference – Fri May 5 & Sat May 6, 2017, Roosevelt Hotel, NYC

By Estelle Erasmus

As Chair for the 2017 ASJA Conference in NYC, I’m delighted to share that we have been getting many of your proposals for sessions and I’m really impressed with the level of diversity and the content of these sessions. ASJA members are certainly deep thinkers and are keeping consistent with our conference theme of Pivot. Publish. Prosper.

With that said, I’m thrilled to announce our additional keynote speakers for members only day and nonmembers day.

Both speakers write and talk about subjects in line with the conference’s main mission to educate and inform writers and help them learn new tools and techniques for flourishing as freelance writers. And both represent the diversity we are dedicated to embodying in our conferences.

Bios for both speakers and more information on the conference as it evolves can be found on the ASJA website.

Member’s Only Day – May 5th Keynote Speaker: Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of Deceit and Other Possibilities, which O, The Oprah Magazine calls a “searing debut.” For nearly two decades, she has been writing about Asia and the diaspora in journalism and in fiction, examining the ways immigrants bring their traditions, their histories, and their ambitions to America. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists’ Association. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, FRONTLINE/World, Washington Post, and elsewhere. She has filed stories from China, South Korea, Panama, Burma and Ecuador. Her novels are forthcoming from Ballantine. Her website is Vanessa Hua.

Vanessa’s talk will focus on how her stories shed a light on untold stories, and the physical landscapes that give the stories a sense of realism, plus her path to publication. Follow her on Twitter at @Vanessa_Hua

NonMembers Day – May 6th Keynote Speaker Andrea King Collier

Andrea King Collier, an ASJA member, is a multimedia journalist, essayist and author. She’s been on the full-time freelance path for over 25 years.

Her specialties are essays, health and wellness, health policy. Her work appears across print, online, and broadcast outlets, including Salon, National Geographic, The Plate, Civil Eats, Ebony, AARP Magazine, Next Avenue, NBCBLK, Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Town and Country, Essence, Heart and Soul and others.

She is the author of Still With Me… A Daughter’s Journey of Love and Loss from Simon and Schuster and The Black Woman’s Guide to Black Men’s Health, from Warner Wellness. Her work has also been anthologized in the Best Food Writing Series, and the O Magazine Book of Happiness, to name a few.

She also teaches online courses for writers on craft and the business of sustainability for freelancers. Collier has served as a ASJA board member. She is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). She is a current AHCJ Great Lakes Fellow. She is also the creative director of the Symposium for Professional Food Writers. Collier is a graduate of Indiana University in Journalism and Political Science. She is based in Lansing, Michigan.

Follow her on Facebook at

Andrea’s talk will focus on tips and insights on how she developed her political writing specialty and what it cost her and what she gained. She will also teach a mini class on her popular “gridding” concept to get many story ideas and increased income from any assignment. Follow her on twitter @andreacollier

Follow ASJA on twitter @ASJAhq

Awards competition from NAGC: Time to enter your speechwriting?


The 2017 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition is now open!

Are you an employee or contractor who has produced a communication product for federal, tribal, military, state, regional, county, municipal or other government entity?

Be recognized: Enter your product(s) in the NAGC 2017 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen (BP&GS) Awards Competition.

This annual international awards program recognizes superior government communication products and those who produce them. We constantly work to ensure our categories reflect the changing face of communications in and out of government.

Enter as many categories as you choose – the number of opportunities to share your best work, innovation, creativity and use of technology may surprise you.

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