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).
When the calendar goes from February to March, Women’s History Month gets a lot of attention. But as March progresses, the attention drops off.
A presentation tip for speakers wanting to honor Women’s History Month:
Include visuals – not just in your presentation, but also in the announcements for your presentation and in the follow up social media.
Libraries offer terrific visual collections – diverse and inclusive. Tap into these images. Give your audience fresh images to convey the wide range of women’s achievements.
Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary shaking – often of the hands or arms.
Speakers with essential tremor (ET) might gesture to the audience and notice that their extended arm begins to tremble. Or they might use a pointer to highlight something on a slide and find their hand begins to shake.
ET can also impact a speaker’s voice.
I’ve known speakers who became self-conscious of their tremors and avoided public speaking assignments. Some avoided asking questions during meetings. Others sought jobs where they didn’t have to present.
Everyone has the right to speak. Everyone has the right to convey their expertise. It’s called inclusion.
If you have a colleague/relative/friend who deals with tremors, maybe now’s a good time to discuss National Essential Tremor month. Information is power. Don’t let essential tremor derail a career.
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.]
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.
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*.
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
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.
Hybrid Publishing: Your Book, Your Way
The great news for authors is that they no longer have to choose between the restrictive arrangements of traditional publishing and the Wild West of self-publishing. Tanya Hall, publishing expert and Greenleaf Book Group CEO, will introduce you to the happy middle ground of hybrid publishing where authors can compete with the major publishing houses without sacrificing their control, ownership, or profits.
That’s what we’ll talk about in this month’s “Shop Talk” event.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
1-2 pm. Eastern (calculate for your time zone)
About our guest expert
Tanya Hall is CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, a hybrid publisher that specializes in creating best-selling books and compelling brands for independent authors, and a sponsor of the ASJA2016 Writers Conference. Tanya has worked directly with authors to develop publishing strategies (leading to multiple New York Times best-sellers); spearheaded Greenleaf’s ebook and digital-first programs; and built Greenleaf’s distribution organization, working with retailers and wholesalers to develop one of the fastest-growing distribution businesses in the industry.
What questions should you ask to build your speechwriting career?
I’ll address speechwriting topics during the June 15th “Shop Talk”, a monthly webcast sponsored by the American Society of Journalists and Authors – hosted by Sandra Beckwith. If you’ve ever wondered about any of the following questions, participate on 6/15 and get answers:
How can I break into speechwriting?
Does a speechwriter need a specific academic background?
What’s the difference between political speechwriting and corporate speechwriting?
How can freelance speechwriters build their businesses?
What does a staff speechwriter need to know before going freelance?
Why is social media so important to an independent speechwriter?
What should be in my writing/speechwriting portfolio?
How much can a speechwriters earn?
What role does geography play in freelance speechwriting? (Can I still make money writing speeches even if I don’t live in a big city?)
How has speechwriting changed in the 30+ years since HOW TO WRITE & GIVE A SPEECH was first published?
ASJA members have free access to “Shop Talk” webcasts. (Yes, that’s another good reason for you to apply for ASJA membership!) But you don’t have to be a member to benefit from this superb Shop Talk series. A modest $19 fee lets you gain access to the insights and expertise of top nonfiction writers.
Join me 6/15 to learn about the business of speechwriting.