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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Publishing Tips for the Multimedia Age

On Wednesday, November 16, the National Association of Government Communicators hosts Greg Leatherman, managing editor of ECO magazine and former communicator for NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the FBI. Greg will present Publishing Tips for the Multimedia Age, a look at how you can turn the material you produce for your agency into copy ready for publishing, and then find outlets that want to share your story.

Webinar Wednesdays are held 1-2 p.m. Eastern time. NAGC members participate at no cost. Non-members register for $49*.

How line editing can improve your next speech

This week, I’m line editing a speech for a client I’ve worked with for years. The client wrote the first draft of the speech in-house and then sent it to me to polish. With some line editing, I was able to:

* Make the speech easier for the executive to deliver

* Make the speech easier for the audience to follow

* Make the speech more memorable

* Make the speech more tweetable

Agreed: It’s important for us as speechwriters to be strategic in our thinking. But it’s equally important to have sharp line editing skills.

Skilled line editing can make the difference between a mediocre delivery and a great delivery. It’s absolutely essential when we write for speakers who use English as a second language. Every syllable matters.

Are you allocating enough time to hone each sentence in your manuscript?


3 tips to improve your speaking skills

I received a question:

A financial advisor asked me how to improve his speaking skills. He says he does well one-on-one with clients, but his group presentations fall short. He knows that better presentation skills will boost his business.

My advice has three parts:

1. Speak as often as possible. Public speaking is a skill: the more you do it, the better you get. It’s a bit like playing tennis or golf. If you only play a sport once a year, you won’t get the experience you need to improve. Look for opportunities to speak. Even leading a small meeting can provide you with a valuable learning experience.

2. Enlist the help of both colleagues and friends. Ask them for specific feedback. What are you doing well? Where can you improve?

3. Take advantage of the solid instruction at Toastmasters International. There’s a Toastmasters club near you and fees are minimal. Make good use of this resource for public speaking and leadership.

Foreign Book Covers

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New speaker added to ASJA regional writing conference in Atlanta

Learn as much as you can at #ASJAatl … Sat Nov 5

Dream of Being Pitch Perfect: Practice Your Skills With Top Editors

Christine Moore @chrissiebmoore

Christine Moore is a senior digital content strategist, editor and writer for Healthgrades, a leading physician search and health content brand serving up to 1 million users a day. In her role, she oversees the development of roughly 50 new titles a month covering a diverse range of health topics, from how doctors diagnose endometriosis to preparing for a colonoscopy to the surprising health benefits of coffee.

Prior to joining Healthgrades, Chrissie worked at Cartoon Network Digital as a writer, producer and associate creative director.

Outside of work, she blogs at and contributes to Paste magazine.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Chrissie lives with her husband and son in Decatur, Ga.

NAGC webinar: Teach kids about emergency preparedness

Join NAGC for the next Webinar Wednesday presentation: Have No Fear, Ready Girl Is Here! Wednesday, October 19, 1-2 p.m. EDT.

Katelyn James and Omar Bourne of NYC Emergency Management will tell the story of the birth and life of their Ready Girl campaign to teach kids about emergency preparedness.

In a little over a year, Ready Girl moved from story board to live mascot to Marvel custom comic. Katelyn and Omar will discuss successes achieved with this unique educational outreach program, how they’ve engaged the media to gain exposure for the Ready Girl character, and the approaches they’ve taken to bring Ready Girl to life.

Ready Girl has helped NYC Emergency Management train more than 55,000 kids in emergency response and safety. Find out how on October 19.

Wanna sneak peek at Ready Girl? Visit her on the NYC Emergency Management web page


Media interviews … Could you be doing a better job?

I’ve been coaching executives for media interviews. Much of this work is done over the phone. Many of the executives speak English as a second language. Some of the execs carry bad memories of bad media experiences. All wonder, “How can I keep calm when I’m asked a rude or rambling question?”

You can keep calm by giving yourself two fundamental rights: 1) The right to get your message across accurately; 2) The right to remain comfortable.

No one else can confer these rights. Only you can give yourself the basic rights to succeed in a tough interview or Q&A.

Attitude is everything.

Start now. List all the questions you might get.

Vary your questions. Don’t make it easy. Write down hard questions. Make them tricky, make them difficult. The better you prepare for worst-case questions now, the more confidence you’ll project in a media interview or a post-presentation Q&A session. Ask a colleague to help you with a few trial runs. Record your answers. Keep tightening them. Make each word count.

Above all, don’t come across as defensive.

Pay attention to your vocal tone when you answer. Does your voice convey confidence and clout? If your tone sounds defensive or annoyed, you’ll undercut your words. Seek speaker coaching if your voice is not up to par. One or two professional coaching sessions might be all you need to sound more confident when you speak.

Pay attention to your body language. Don’t glare. Don’t cross your arms. Don’t tap the desk. Don’t fiddle with a pen. Don’t shift weight from foot to foot.

Keep in mind: Interviewers and audiences have the right to ask questions! It’s your responsibility to rise to the occasion with strong answers.

Can You Say A Few Words? by Joan Detz


How to pivot, publish & prosper: keynote speakers for #ASJA2017

By Estelle Erasmus

As Chair for the 2017 ASJA Conference in NYC, with the theme of Pivot. Publish. Prosper, I’m delighted to announce our keynote speakers for members only day and non-members day.

Both speakers reflect the purpose of our theme and have copious amounts of advice to share for today’s practicing freelance writer and author. (extended bios for both speakers can be found on the ASJA website here)

Member’s Only Day – May 5th – Keynote Speaker: Lane Shefter Bishop

Lane Shefter Bishop, coined “The Book Whisperer” in a recent online interview by CNN, is an Emmy and multi-award winning producer/director.
She is the author of the book Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence: Advice From the Front Lines of Hollywood, published by W.W. Norton & Company in May of 2016. The book hit #1 on Amazon in New Releases five times before its release date.

Currently Ms. Bishop is the CEO of Vast Entertainment, THE go to book-to-screen company, with numerous projects, including feature films: The Last Apple (Joel Silver/Silver Pictures and Ineffable Pictures), Reboot.

Vast is currently partnered on all non-scripted programming with Bishop-Lyons Entertainment, which has a first-look deal with ITV Studios.

Lane’s talk will focus on savvy tips for authors pitching their next project to get agents, editors and Hollywood’s attention. She will also cover the path for getting books into film. Follow her on Twitter at @LaneShefterBish

Non-Members Day – May 6th – Keynote Speaker: Jenny Blake

Jenny Blake is an author, career and business strategist and international speaker who helps people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny is the author of Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One (Portfolio/Penguin Random House, September 2016), and Life After College (Running Press, 2011), which is based on her blog of the same name. With two years at a technology start-up as the first employee, five years at Google on the Training and Career Development teams, and over five years of running her own business, Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions – often to pivot their career or business.

Today you can find her at, where she explores systems at the intersection of mind, body and business.

Jenny’s talk will focus on tips and insights on how seasoned writers and authors can Pivot (and prosper) in today’s chaotic world, plus her own path towards publication. Subscribe to the Pivot Podcast and follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

How to make facts tell a story

From the American Society of Journalists and Authors …

Making Facts Dance
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
1 pm. Eastern

This session will explore how nonfiction writers can turn facts into narratives that hit the reader emotionally and intellectually, in the heart and in the head, by using a journalist’s drive for content, a poet’s eye for imagery, and a fiction writer’s sense of drama. We will discuss the choices writers make to turn facts into a story with tension and character development rather than the formulaic lead and nut graf and talking heads.

About our guest expert:

Sue Hertz, an associate professor of nonfiction writing at the University of New Hampshire, is the author of Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling and Caught in the Crossfire: A Year on Abortion’s Front Line. Her essays and stories have appeared in numerous national and regional publications, including Redbook, House Beautiful, Walking, New England Monthly Magazine, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe Magazine, and Parenting. Before she began the double life of teacher-writer, she was a feature writer for The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and The Herald in Everett, Wash.

FREE for ASJA Members and $19 for Non-Members; plus bonus handout. Don’t worry if you have a schedule conflict; everyone who registers will be able to download the recording later.

How To Write & Give A Speech: coming soon in Chinese

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 The Chinese rights for How To Write & Give A Speech have been placed with ThinKingdom Media.

How To Write & Give A Speech was originally published in 1984 and has remained continuously in print (producing royalties) for more than three decades – a distinction in publishing and a testament to the commitment of publisher St Martin’s Press. As an author, I’m honored and grateful.

The Chinese edition will include both print and e-book.

Watch this space for publication dates and translation details.

Amazon: Joan Detz




Seven tips to improve your public speaking skills

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How good are your public speaking skills?

Many writers are more comfortable at their keyboards than at lecterns. Many executives are more comfortable speaking one-on-one than speaking on a panel. Many authors are more comfortable writing a book than doing the book talks.

Yet good public speaking skills are essential to any career.

  • It’s the terrific conference speaker who gets the best social media coverage.
  • It’s the confident entrepreneur whose presentation brings in more business.
  • It’s the savvy lecturer who gets the job promotion.
  • It’s the articulate PR person who scores a raise.
  • It’s the author with top platform skills who gets a bigger advance on her next book.

Seven tips:

  1. Look for opportunities to speak. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
  2. Not comfortable speaking in public? Turn to Toastmasters for practical advice.
  3. Write down your public speaking goals. Do you want to improve eye contact … create social media buzz … use stronger body language? Tackle one goal each time you present.
  4. Read about public speaking. You can borrow a copy of HOW TO WRITE & GIVE A SPEECH from any public library. (Make sure it’s the updated 2014 edition so you get the new information on international speeches, social media, etc.)
  5. Ask a colleague to give you one specific suggestion.
  6. Watch speeches.  Take notes. See what works and what doesn’t work – then have fun figuring out why.
  7. Get public speaking tips on Twitter. I tweet regularly about #publicspeaking #speechwriting #HowToWriteAndGiveASpeech #HTWGAS  #Toastmasters #presentationskills #media #coaching #socialmedia and (yes) the ubiquitous #PPT
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