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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Copyright and democracy: a quote to remember

“Copyright protection is a linchpin of democracy. The Founders wrote copyright law into the Constitution because a democracy needs an informed citizenry.”

[from a January 15 2017 speech, given by the Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger]

I happened to reread this speech over the long July 4th weekend and the quote sticks with me. I’m hoping these lines about copyright and democracy resonate with you as much as they do with me.

We need every reminder we can get about the importance of “an informed citizenry”. Please spread the word:

Copyright matters.

Quick advice for speechwriters

What images do you create in the minds of your audience?

“Some say that nothing is more vivid or memorable than a picture. We disagree. No visual image is as vivid as the image created by the mind in response to words.” [Norman Cousins]

Wise words to guide your speechwriting …

Freelance speechwriters: Time to update your website?

Spanish cover Como escibir un discurso

If it’s time to update your website, make sure you cite comments/clients/recommendations from a wide geographical range.

Freelance speechwriting is a global business – if you market it globally.

A freelance speechwriter who attended 5 of my speechwriting seminars has turned a local speechwriting business into a global speechwriting business. I’m delighted to see this. If the entire world is filled with potential clients, why limit yourself to the companies in your hometown?

Essential: Update your website to include blurbs from international clients. Don’t have any international clients yet? Well, cite diverse forums, global topics, English-as-second-language executives.

Maybe you’ve written a speech about Brexit, or climate change, or multi-cultural workforces. Note this speechwriting experience. It all speaks to your broad worldview, and it increases your professional value.

(Yes, in case you’re wondering: Experienced international speechwriters earn higher rates.)

Japanese cover front

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.”

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