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Speechwriting

Manage your time

Writing a speech? Rehearsing a presentation?

Set a clear timeline, and hold yourself accountable. Hold everyone else accountable, too.

For a long term speechwriting assignment, a weekly check-in might work. For a short term speechwriting assignment, check daily to reassess goals and monitor progress.

Rehearsals require strict time management. Why? Because you have multiple participants (speaker, speechwriter, AV team, teleprompter operator, interpreters, perhaps someone from legal, perhaps someone from HR). Plus, you’re getting down to the wire!  That speech/presentation has to be given at a specific time and place – no extensions.

If you start the rehearsal late, or if the speaker wants to rewrite half the speech (I’ve seen rehearsals that spent more time on re-writing than practicing) … well, you all lose (including the audience, who was hoping for a well prepared presentation).

Public speaking: Bridge the English-as-second-language gap

Presenting in English to an audience that uses English as a second language?

Three tips:

  1. Pause more often.
  2. Speak a bit slower.
  3. Using interpreters? Pause even more often so both interpreters and audiences can catch up with your message. And speak even slower. (Your interpreters will appreciate your professionalism, and it will be easier for your audience to get your message.)

Spanish translation of HOW TO WRITE & GIVE A SPEECH (St Martin’s Press). Spanish edition publisher, Alba Editorial of Barcelona Spain. Translator, Elena Bernardo Gil. Author, Joan Detz

Quote from a special occasion speech: The dedication of a building

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life – the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” (Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, 1977) … from his remarks at the dedication of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building

Now: two Chinese editions of How To Write & Give A Speech

About two years ago, St Martin’s Press did a contract for the Mainland China edition of How To Write & Give A Speech. That Chinese edition (with simplified characters) has just been published in Mainland China. I don’t have my author’s copy yet, but when I get the book, I’ll post and share the details.

Now: A few weeks ago, St Martin’s Press sold a new Chinese language edition that will be published in Taiwan (with traditional characters). The upcoming Taiwan edition will offer Chinese rights worldwide (excluding Mainland China).

Speechwriting and public speaking are global skills. I’m grateful to the translators who have made – and are still making – How To Write & Give A Speech available in multiple languages.

If you care about newspapers

Many hotels offer free digital access to newspapers during your stay. Other hotels across the USA offer print copies of local newspapers and/or national newspapers, maybe USA Today.

Don’t take any of this for granted.

Let your hotels know you value free/easy access to newspapers.

In particular, let hotels know you value local newspapers. Speak up for local journalism while it’s still here.

Local journalism matters – everywhere.

Writers write

Quote from poet Donna Hilbert:

“One of the most annoying questions I field from non-writers is ‘Are you still writing?’ Might as well ask if I’m still breathing.”

Writers write. That’s what we do. And many of us pretty much want to do it forever.

It’s who we are.

How to cut a speech – when you don’t want to cut any of your favorite points

A colleague wrote that he was having a hard time cutting a too-long presentation. He had put in all the points that mattered to him – and he didn’t want to cut any of them.

Later in his speechwriting process, he read It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It  (St Martin’s Press), and he began to look at the topic from the audience’s point of view. What would they want to hear? What would they expect to learn?  What would they need to know?

Most especially: How long would they be willing to sit for an after dinner lecture?  

Once he looked at the topic from the audience’s viewpoint, it was pretty easy for him to cut away the unnecessary material.

 It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It by Joan Detz

“I’ve found all of Joan Detz’s books to be highly useful, but this one may top the list because it has a few topics not covered in her other books.”

Boost your clout as a writer or speaker: Develop strong research skills

September is Month. If you don’t already own a card for your local public library, get one now.

Then get cards for major libraries throughout the country.

You don’t have to be a resident of Philadelphia to apply for a card at Philly’s terrific Free Library. While you’re at it, follow @FreeLibrary to learn about all the digital resources available to you.

You don’t have to be a New York City resident to apply for a card at the NY Public Library. Getting your NYPL card this is easy – and so worth it.  Be sure to follow @nypl on Twitter to get up-to-date info on reference sources (from podcasts to lists to Ask The Librarian).

Check this blog space in the days ahead for more reference tools.

Remember: Your speeches and presentations can only be as strong as the research you put into them.

Become_a_Professional_Speaker

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