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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Speechwriters: Are you working on more than one speech at a time?

Since September 1st, I have accepted seven speechwriting assignments – most due in late September or October, with one due in November.

This is a demanding load. How do I juggle seven speechwriting assignments? I don’t. I set priorities and I only work on one speech at a time.

The other speeches? I never multitask with my speechwriting research, and I even keep hard-copy files of the other speechwriting assignments completely out of sight – no distractions. That’s what desk drawers were made for!

FYI: Since September 1st, I also received other requests to write speeches on a wide variety of topics: energy, motivation, China, etc. I declined those speechwriting assignments for a range of reasons, and instead I referred those leads to experienced freelance speechwriters whose work I know well.

Look for a blog post in the coming weeks on “why I have to decline certain speechwriting assignments”.

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Are you ready to take your speechwriting to a higher level? Consider one of my individual speechwriting tutorials: Basic, Advanced, and Master levels. I custom-design the course material to meet your specific speechwriting needs/goals.

Media training: More words to avoid (Let’s shut the door on “open the kimono”)

I’m not sure why some executives say “Open the kimono” during a media interview.

I really have no idea why they use these words. But I wish they would permanently drop the phrase from all future interviews, Q&A sessions, and presentations.

In fact, it would be nice if they never uttered this phrase again. It’s so overused and so unsettling.

Think – just please think for one minute – about what they’re saying. “Open the kimono”? Of all the words in the English language, they’re choosing these three words to express their thoughts?

Enough said.

Media training: Words to avoid

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.]

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Enter Natl Assn of Govt Communicators Awards Program

Free Webinar: Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 1-2 p.m. Eastern

You’re doing terrific work this year, and one of the top awards in government communications would look beautiful on your desk. We want to help you compete for a NAGC Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award.

Find out more at our complimentary August edition of Webinar Wednesday. We’ll hear from NAGC Competitions Director S.J. Brown about what’s new for 2017, the competition process, and the benefits of recognition. SJ will also cover:

  • Who earns recognition for their work
  • What the competition looks like
  • When 2017 nominations will be accepted
  • Where to send your nomination packages
  • Why you should enter
  • How you can increase your chances of winning

NAGC’s Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards competition is one of the top government leadership competition programs in the country. Our judges see the best work being done by local, state, federal, tribal, and international communicators from every discipline: writing, design, photography, multimedia, social media, and management.

They also face some of their toughest decisions of the year: who earns first place, second place, and awards of excellence in each category. And which agency brings home the top prize of Best in Show.

Find out if your organization has what it takes to enter on our next edition of Webinar Wednesday. And, if you aren’t yet a member, take advantage of this annual cost-free presentation to learn more about NAGC, our professional development offerings, and how you can save money by activating your membership today.

Register now for “The 5 Ws and How of Winning a Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award”

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism: Nov 15 deadline for story grant proposals

Mark Your Calendar: Request for Proposals

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism (FEJ) invests in public service reporting on environment and the journalists who produce it.

November 15, 2017 (midnight local time) is the next deadline for story grant proposals to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism. FEJ grants will provide up to $5,000 to underwrite stipend for freelancers and budget lines for direct expenses like travel, multi-media production, translation, data sets or document costs.

Calling all donors: Give now to seed more stories. Grants will be awarded in January 2018 to underwrite coverage projects in three categories:

  1. Open Topic: Environmental Issues Made possible by unrestricted gifts and grants to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism.
  2. Marine and coastal issues of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans Made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
  3. Environmental issues of the Amazon and Andes Made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Winning projects will be selected by an independent jury of editors. Preference will be given to projects that include an element of international partnership: journalists and news organizations in different countries working together to report an important story and expand its reach.

Grantees retain full editorial control of FEJ-funded coverage. Donors have no right of review and no influence on story plans made possible in part by their contributions. Binding agreements between donors and the Society of Environmental Journalists and between SEJ and grantees of its Fund for Environmental Journalism reinforce this policy of editorial independence.

SEJ maintains a strict policy of confidentiality with regard to story ideas submitted. The application portal for this FEJ Winter Round of competition is now open.  Applicants will be notified of results in January 2018.

Grantees will be paid and announcements made as soon as SEJ-FEJ Grantee agreements can be finalized. Want a head start on the process? Proposal requirements will include project title, 200-word summary of topic, media dissemination plan and partnership plan (if applicable) and amount requested.

To complete your application you’ll upload PDF documents to include narrative (up to 1,000 words), qualifications, letter of support from editor(s) to publish or broadcast finished work and detailed budget.

See the FEJ guidelines for more information. Then you can fill out an online form and upload your files. Note: SEJ members pay no application fee. Non-member journalists must qualify for SEJ membership and pay online entry fee ($40USD) to apply. Find full details on the Fund for Environmental Journalism here.

Media interviews: another phrase to avoid

I heard this on a media interview a few days ago:

“You don’t look seventy.”

Some thoughts:

  1. What does seventy look like? [Who knows?]
  2. Will the phrase create value for the audience? [No]
  3. Does this line rank as a key message? [Hardly]
  4. Will the phrase contribute to the ROI of that interview? [No]
  5. Since everything has an opportunity cost, the question becomes: “Does saying this take time away from saying something more important?” [Unfortunately yes]

Time is money and time is focus. Whenever speakers use unproductive lines in media interviews, they are cutting into their own message time and blunting the focus for their audience.

Omit needless/distracting lines.

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Media training: phrases to avoid

I had a one-year contract to work as a national media spokesperson for a tech company – traveling the USA to convey the client’s key messages.

My advice to anyone answering media questions? 1. Know the key messages you must work into each interview. 2. Identify the annoying phrases you must keep out.

As an executive coach, I watch a lot of media interviews and I hear a lot of annoying phrases.

What ranks at the top of the please-don’t-say-this-again list? Perhaps “at the end of the day.”  I watched an executive on a TV interview use it twice within a few minutes. That was two times too many.

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Quote: Differences & Diversity

Media interviews talk about fixing the USA’s growing divisiveness. Corporate presentations talk about the need to encourage diversity. Government officials talk about “the bi-partisan need to come together” as a nation.

I ran across this quote from a commencement address given by President Kennedy back in 1963 at the American University in DC. The second sentence struck me, in particular the words “at least we can help make the world safe for diversity” … strong words (mostly 1 syllable) that convey a strong theme:

“So, let us not be blind to our differences – but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”

Make the World Safe for Diversity sounds like a good title for a speech.

The business of speechwriting: Client service

Whether you write on staff or freelance, you want your speechwriting clients to feel like they’re in good hands.

Think about the clients you served last week. Write down 3 specific things you did to convey your professionalism.

Keep this list of actions on file. The next time you work for these clients, find other ways to let them know they’re in good hands with your speechwriting services.

Pretty soon, you’ll be seen as indispensable. That’s what you want.

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Public speaking & media training: Statistic of the month

“It’s not normal for you to go to a community, weigh 100 children and have 30 of them close to dying.” (Susanna Raffalli, nutritional coordinator, speaking about the human devastation in Caritas Venezuela)

Notice:

+ the impact of using the personal pronoun “you” to engage listeners in the statistic (“It’s not normal for you to go to a community … “)

+ the power of using round numbers: “100 children … 30 of them close to dying”. Round numbers are more quotable.

On a personal note:

For the sake of the children who are suffering so terribly in Venezuela, I hope you’ll find opportunities to share this statistic with others. The chaos in Venezuela gets precious little media attention in the US. I’m aware of Venezuela’s situation through international business communication colleagues who are trying to do their professional best in what has become a disaster zone.

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