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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Why speechwriters need to look at a client’s past public speaking appearances

From Patrick Henry:

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.”

Look at the speeches your client has given over the past six months.
* What went wrong?
* What proved successful?

There’s always a reason. Look. Analyze. Figure out why your client succeeded with one audience but underperformed with another.


The speechwriter’s skill set: More tips for better listening

Remain silent while a client finishes telling you his account. Then paraphrase your client:

“Now, let me make sure I get your priorities straight. First, CSR needs to …”

At this point, you should get some feedback from your speaker. Feedback usually falls into two categories.

A speaker might say:

* “That’s it! That’s exactly what I want to emphasize.”
OR she might say:
* Well, no, not exactly. I do want CSR to ____, but first we need to ____.”

See? The more you listen, the more you learn. And the more you learn during the interview phase, the less rewriting you’ll need to do later on.

Ah, less rewriting … there’s the reward!

stack of books

Listening tips for speechwriters

When interviewing your client for a major speech, talk less and listen more. You’ll get better information – and the executive will get a better speech.

1. Sit quietly.
2. Watch body language.
3. Listen to tone.
4. Don’t interrupt.
5. Really: Don’t interrupt.
6. Remain silent as the speaker tells his anecdote or shares her data. Note exactly what your client emphasizes (where she speaks louder, where he underscores a key phrase).
7. Think: “What did I learn about this speaker’s messaging priorities?”
8. Also think: “What did careful listening teach me about my client’s public speaking skills?”

Use what you learn to write a speech tailored to your client’s unique needs.


Need help crafting a better speech? I can help you with that.

Public speaking: Working with a professional speaker

Many organizations go to a great deal of work/expense to hire a professional speaker for their conference – but then let the ball drop by overlooking the final travel logistics.

You want your speaker to arrive fresh/rested at the podium. Leave nothing to chance.

Start by booking convenient lodging – preferably onsite.

If no onsite lodging is available, take full responsibility to get the speaker from the hotel to the venue. Do not make speakers fend for themselves in an unfamiliar city with driving/parking/taxi hassles. I’ve been in that position. It wasn’t pretty.

Arrange for a trusted car service to pick up your speaker … tap the flexibility of Uber or Lyft … even offer to drive the speaker yourself.

A personal note:

When teaching speechwriting workshops at Air Force bases, I’ve always been grateful to have the host pick me up at my hotel and drive me to the base. This saves time/frustration … prevents security delays … keeps me comfortable … and assures that I arrive ready to work. Perhaps best of all, chatting with the host en route lets me learn more about the people I’ll be teaching.

Bottom line: I arrive as a professional speaker – focused, fresh, on time, and all set to do a professional job.


The business of speechwriting: Get recommendations

Whether you work on-staff as a speechwriter or work independently as a freelancer, you need testimonials for your speechwriting.

These recommendations can be as brief as one phrase (“The best freelance speechwriter we’ve ever hired”) or run as long as a paragraph.

Testimonials play a critical role in the business of speechwriting. Don’t wait for them to arrive. Ask for recommendations. Today would be a good time. Now would be absolutely terrific.


Speechwriting: Use active verbs

Note the series of active verbs in the following sentence (from the address by Daniel Webster at the cornerstone laying of Bunker Hill Monument in June 1825):

“Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote its great interests, and see whether we also in our day and generation may not perform something worthy to be remembered.”

National Association of Government Communicators: June 13-15, St. Louis

Here’s some information on NAGC’s Communications School in St. Louis:

Chris O’Neil, Chief of Media Relations for the National Transportation Safety Board, will teach you how to define communication goals, separate strategy from tactics, and effectively use research and evaluation in a half-day advance training workshop at the 2017 NAGC Communications School in St. Louis. “Communications Planning: Defining Success and Setting Goals,” will give you the skills you need to master strategic communications planning. You’ll leave knowing how to align your communications efforts to specific goals of your agency and your department.

And don’t miss “The Role of Government Communicators and Transition in Government.” Chris and John Verrico, Chief of Media Relations of the Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security, will lead this panel examining the role of career, professional government communicators during transitions in government leadership.

June 13-15 in St. Louis
National Association of Government Communicators
201 Park Washington Court | Falls Church, VA 22046 | | 703.538.1787

Help keep environmental journalism in the spotlight

Four days left to enter the Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment …

Monday, April 3

SEJ offers $500 for first-place winners in seven categories.

But much more than that, SEJ shines a light on environmental reporting.

We live in a time when both journalism and environment are being attacked in the U.S. It’s unprecedented, and it’s more important than ever to recognize the great work being done by journalists who cover environmental issues.

Enter, or enter again, today. And please forward this message to colleagues. Help SEJ keep environmental journalism in the spotlight.

Deadline to enter:
April 3, 11:59PM your local time

I received this from the Authors Guild

UPDATE March 16, 2017:

Our fears have come to pass. You may have seen the news this morning that President Trump’s proposed budget, released earlier today, calls for the elimination of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. The budget—which must be passed by Congress—will be the subject of vigorous debate on Capitol Hill in the coming months.

Now is the time to act.

Why You Should Help

The NEA is the only U.S. federal agency that is dedicated to supporting the future of the arts, and especially literature, through its grants to upcoming writers and literary organizations. The NEA and NEH each account for only .003 percent of federal spending and are the only agencies that represent our thriving arts culture. These organizations support countless authors, literary organizations, and artistic endeavors, and are particularly important because they allow the arts to flourish in geographic and economic areas otherwise underserved by the arts.

How You Can Help

1. Sign the Authors Guild’s Letter

The Guild is sending letters to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and we hope to collect as many signatures from you as we can.

2. Contact your Representative

Speak to or write your Congressperson and let them know that cutting funding for the arts, and literature in particular, is not acceptable.

In approximate order of effectiveness, the best ways to make sure your representatives in Congress and the Senate hear you are to:

Meet with them in person. You can contact their office to set up a meeting or, if you are comfortable with doing so, attend a local event where they are speaking and raise your hand and make sure you are heard.
Mail a letter (they are less and less frequently received, so they actually get read!).
Call or write an e-mail.

You may want to mention projects in your state that are funded by the NEA and the NEH.

Feel free to use as much of the from the Authors Guild as you wish, keeping in mind that personalized letters tend to be more effective—but the quantity of letters received is also important.

Bottom line: make sure your voice is heard.

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