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NAGC welcomes communicators to Memphis for Blues, BBQs and Government News

The National Association of Government Communicators Communications School is coming soon.

The last day to receive NAGC’s discounted Early Bird registration fee for the Communications School is Thursday, April 30, 2015. Prices increase on May 1, so don’t wait to submit your forms.

Register now for Blues, BBQs, and Government News, 2015 NAGC Communications School June 2-4, 2015| Memphis, Tenn. Sheraton Downtown, Memphis

How much money will your organization lose this week on poor presentations, long meetings, boring speeches?

Do something different this week: Add up all the time your organization spends on presentations. Start with the preparation time.

Include the research hours. Count the emails, log the calls.  How long to get background on the audience, how long to verify venue details? Add up the hours (days, maybe?) preparing PowerPoint.

Factor in all the time required to get approvals. Did HR have to sign off on the material? Did you have to run the speech past the legal department? How long did all this take?

Include the time needed for rewrites.

What about the rehearsals? (I certainly hope you rehearse more than once!) Renting the practice space? Hiring a teleprompter operator?

Look at onsite meeting expenses. Coffee, anyone? Fresh fruit platters?

Look at offsite meeting expenses. What’s the hourly fee for renting a hotel conference room? Exhibit space? The [often stunning] cost of catering at convention centers?

Look very carefully at travel time and travel expenses. How many people had to spend their time and money to get to each meeting?

Go ahead: Take a deep breath and add up the combined work hours lost by all the attendees.

Then add in your opportunity costs. What else could (should?) the attendees have been doing with their time?

More to the point: What else could (should?) you – the speaker – have been doing with your time?

Fix your presentations drain … and fix it as soon as possible.

If your presentations aren’t planned well, they will eat up huge amounts of time and cost your organization a lot of money. Think. Even a one hour coaching/consulting session could produce a ten-fold ROI.

Do the math.


How important is your message?

If you are giving a presentation of significance, make sure the audience understands both your content and your intent.

Some presentations are simply more important than others: a scientist making a proposal for a critical grant … a medical professional trying to persuade others to take a new approach … an educator seeking funding for a state-wide program … a financial advisor wanting to clarify investment consequences.

Your content is critical. But your intent is equally critical. What do you want your listeners to hear? To remember? To do?

In speeches of substantial magnitude, it’s important for you to make your intentions very clear to the audience. Pay attention to your:

* tone

* sincerity

* urgency

* commitment

* passion

* dedication

Do not make the mistake of doing a serious presentation in a casual way. You are not chatting over a cup of coffee. You are putting yourself (and your organization) on the line. The stakes are big.

Do not use a “breezy” speaking style. You must come across as a speaker of substance, clout and confidence. Focus. Don’t wander. Don’t digress. Make every word count.

When you command attention, you get attention. Even better, you get results.

Now, get to work.

More speakers added to ASJA conference

New Speaker Additions to ASJA2015: Connect for SuccessASJA

Carolyn Waters is the Assistant Head Librarian at the New York Society Library, the oldest library in New York City. She’ll be sharing her expertise on the Beyond the Basics: Research to Help You Dig Deep panel on Friday, May 1, the first day of ASJA2015 open to the public.

Todd Pitock has won several ASJA Outstanding Article awards, including this year’s awards for both Lifestyle and Op-Ed articles. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Discover, Nautilus, National Geographic Traveler and others. Catch him on the From Pitch to Publish panel, also on Friday.

Kirby Kim is a literary agent representing commercial authors in fiction and nonfiction. He worked as an agent at Charlotte Sheedy Literary, Vigliano Associates and WME before joining Janklow & Nesbit. She’ll be speaking on the From Essay to Book Panel, Friday.

Steffen A. Kaplan is a social media and visual consultant with two decades of experience as a supervising photo editor at The New York Times. Today he leads his own brand “Spin It Social” and is a social media consultant/strategist for AARP’s Life Reimagined platform and its executive leadership and thought leaders. Don’t miss him on Saturday on the panel Going Viral: How to Get More Attention for Your Book or Story. Members have access to an additional full day of incredible speakers on Thursday, April 30.

I’ve volunteered a Members Day session on “How to Get Speechwriting Assignments … No Matter Where You Live”. One lucky attendee will win a copy of How To Write & Give A Speech, now celebrating 31 continuous years of publishing success – never out of print a single day.

Not a member? Find out how to join.

Can’t come for the whole event? One-day pricing is available, starting from $269. Catch sessions such as Breaking into Content Marketing Writing and Successfully Self-Publish on Friday, or Tech Markets: The Road to Success and Business Matters: Proposals, Contracts & More on Saturday.

How to prepare a room for public speaking success

So, you’ve prepared all your presentation materials and even rehearsed a few times. Ready to go? No, not so fast. Your speech is only as good as the venue allows it to be. Set the room like a good director sets the stage – put everything in place for a successful delivery.

You may have prepared a witty speech or an informative presentation, but if the audience can’t hear you well or see you comfortably, much of your hard work will go to waste.

And if the audience is suffering from an air-conditioning system that doesn’t work, you might as well let everyone head home early.

Check the room:

1. Does the room have windows? If glare poses a problem, shut the drapes.

2. Does the hotel ballroom have unwanted mirrors in back of your lectern? (This happens more often than you might realize.) You don’t want a full-view reflection of your backside to reveal any fidgeting. Insist that the hotel either block the mirrors with a decorative screen or move your lectern.

3. Does the lectern have a light? Is it plugged in and ready to go? Is a spare light bulb handy? Does the lectern have a shelf where you can stash a cough drop, a handkerchief, or a glass of water?

4. Does the seating work for you or against you? Arrive early and adjust the chairs if needed. If you expect your audience will be smaller than the number of seats in the auditorium, take ribbon to rope off the back rows.

5. Is the room soundproof? You don’t want to make your most important point, only to have the audience distracted by a noisy meeting next door.

Adapted from How To Write & Give A Speech (St. Martin’s Press, updated 4th edition, 2014). Published in Spanish, Japanese and Dutch.

stack of books

Who won an IABC Gold Quill Award?

IABC has announced the Excellence and Merit winners of the 2015 Gold Quill Awards program (#IABCgq).

You can find the full list of winners on the Gold Quill Awards website.   The awards will be presented at the Excellence Awards Gala, to be held on Monday 15 June, as part of the World Conference in San Francisco.

In total, 313 entries have been awarded, with 124 Excellence and 189 Merit. Awards have been won by organizations from around the world, with 15 countries represented in the winners list.

BookExpo America (BEA) … coming in May

Interested in publishing? Consider attending BookExpo America, the national booksellers’ convention. It’s huge – beyond huge, really.

This year’s BEA is Wednesday, May 27th to Friday, May 29th at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

For more information about all of this year’s happenings at BEA, go to

A bit of book trivia …

The first book club in the United States was the Book-of-the-Month Club, founded in 1926.

“How can I get started in speechwriting?”

This week I received an email from a talented 24-year-old writer who wants to break into speechwriting.  She’s transitioning out of TV and into a graduate creative nonfiction program.

She has great academic credentials, great writing samples, and a pleasant/professional style. In short, she sent me an email so good that it made me want to cheer her on.

How did she find out about my work? “Through a friend of a friend.” And how did I happen to meet that distant “friend” many years ago? Through an IABC meeting (the International Association of Business Communicators).  

I mention this “friend of a friend” concept because it’s important. The people you meet at professional meetings and conferences can help shape your career for years – decades – to come. Attend as many programs as possible.

If you’re fresh out of college and don’t have much of a budget, that’s okay. You don’t have to join all of these professional groups. You just have to attend some of their meetings … and while you’re there, network/network/network.

All the people you meet? Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Post good material. Retweet helpful stuff. Like something that catches your interest. Write in a fresh/clean style. You will get noticed.

When I was first getting started as a speechwriter in New York City, a wonderful mentor taught me the difference between a would-be speechwriter and a working speechwriter. That difference? “Just one speech assignment.”

Get out there and let people see how good you write. Those speech assignments will come.



Public speaking news from Barcelona


Alba Editorial has announced that the Spanish edition of How To Write & Give A Speech (with translation by Elena Bernardo of Madrid) is now available electronically. Spanish-speaking speechwriters, executives, Q&A participants, panelists, moderators and presenters can learn more about Cómo escribir y pronunciar un discurso [Versión Kindle] at:

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