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Quote of the Day

“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.”  (Voltaire … January 5, 1759)

Planning for the Month

Here’s a tip to streamline your speechwriting assignments:

On the first work day of each month, note upcoming holidays.  They can provide important themes, help you create clever titles, and lead to media attention.

January has Martin Luther King Jr Day.  February brings Presidents’ Day.  March celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.  While you might not be writing speeches about any of those holidays, you can refer to them … draw historical lessons … cite motivational anecdotes … include relevant details.  In doing so, you’ll make your topic more interesting (both to the audience and to the media). 

Check this blog throughout the coming weeks.  I’ll be providing info for Martin Luther King Jr Day, Presidents’ Day, and other holidays … providing lists of books/websites , and sharing terrific quotes/anecdotes. 

New Year’s Resolutions for Speechwriters

Make yourself this professional promise: 

“In 2009, I will find out the ‘speech rate’ (the number of spoken words per minute) for each of my clients. ”

After all, how can you write a terrific 8 minute speech … if you don’t know whether your client speaks only 110 words per minute, or rushes along at 195 words per minute?  Do the math.  It makes a huge difference.

Happy New Year! 

“Start with a fresh page…. on the first of January, let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”  (Henry Ward Beecher, 1813-1887, US clergy)

“Nobody Shoots at Santa Claus”

Today is the birth date of Al Smith, governor of New York (born December 30, 1873).  

It was Al Smith who coined this phrase in 1936, reflecting his opposition to the New Deal:  “Nobody shoots at Santa Claus.”

In recent weeks, I’ve heard this phrase used in speeches, Q&A sessions, and media interviews … still a part of our national vocabulary after more than seven decades. 

Gifts for Clients

Each year, instead of sending formal holiday gifts, I contribute to a variety of worthwhile organizations in honor of my clients.  This year, I focused my “alternative giving” program on relief efforts for our country’s natural disasters:  in particular, the floods that devastated so much of the Midwest, and the hurricane that brought destruction to the Texas Gulf  and Houston. 

I began my “alternative giving” initiative more than a decade ago, and it’s been enormously satisfying.  It’s a pleasure to pick out worthwhile causes:  libraries … Habitat for Humanity … the Salvation Army … Heifer Project International … tree planting efforts … museums … food banks. 

Perhaps the most satisfying gift I ever gave?  Buying DVDs to entertain the troops recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center.  (A friend who worked at the Pentagon helped me with the logistics of delivering the DVDs to the patients.)

I’m already thinking ahead to the contributions I’ll make in 2009.  And, may I make a suggestion?  When the time rolls around for you to send holiday cards and gifts to your own clients, consider an “alternative giving” program.  It’s a great way to honor your clients … and you’ll feel terrific about it, too. 

Writing speeches about the economy?

On December 23 …

1690: The Massachusetts Bay Colony issued a series of tax anticipation certificates – the first loan ever floated by an American government.

1788: Maryland gave 10 square miles of its territory to the United States. This land was for the establishment of a Federal city … to be the capital of the new nation.

1913:  The Federal Reserve Act was approved

December 23 officially stands as “Economists’ Day.”  This year, economists certainly have plenty of material to keep themselves busy. 


On this date in 1944, in Belgium, the Battle of the Bulge had reached a major crisis.  The US 101st Airborne Division was surrounded, and the Germans called upon its acting Commander, Major General Anthony McAuliffe, to surrender.  McAuliffe’s brief answer became a US rallying cry for the rest of World War II:  “Nuts.” 

On a personal note:  I grew up hearing these wartime stories.  My father, Vernon Gerald Detz, was one of seven brothers – all of whom served in the military during WWII.  It’s hard to imagine what it was like for any mother to see all seven of her sons go off to a wartime military, but “the Detz boys” (from the little town of Marietta, PA) were enormously proud to serve … and did so with distinction.  As a child, I heard their stories of battles, and the phrase “Nuts” came to occupy a place of honor in our family.

A Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway

Writing about energy?  This week in history marks a couple of notable events:

In 1879, in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison gave the first demonstration of his electric light … a private demonstration, for just a few select people.

Then, in 1880, electric lights lit up the theater area of New York City.  Shortly after this very public introduction of bright lights, the following expression became part of our national lexicon:  “There’s a broken heart for every light on Broadway.” 

The Pause that Refreshes

Today is the birthday of English actor Sir Ralph Richardson (born in 1902).  We’ll make his line the Quote of the Day:

“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.” 

As a speechwriter, make sure you’re building those pauses into your manuscripts. 

Writing about energy?

On this date in 1957, the first commercial nuclear power plant in the US went into operation … supplying electricity in Shippingport, PA. 

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