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February 2013 | Volume 11

The Speechwriter Newsletter of the

UK Speechwriters' Guild

Welcome Welcome to the eleventh edition of The Speechwriter newsletter. The purpose of this publication is to circulate examples of excellent speeches to members of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild. We do this by picking out openings, closings, one-liners and quotations and other topical extracts from newspapers and the internet to identify techniques, stimulate your imagination and provide models which you can emulate. This newsletter appears quarterly and is available to anyone who is a Standard Member of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild or the European Speechwriter Network.


MASTERCLASS by Garr Reynolds


resentation guru, Garr Reynolds, uses analogies with Japanese aesthetics and Zen philosophy to give clarity to his principles of creating effective slides and talks. His mantra is: restraint in preparation, simplicity in design and naturalness in delivery. He describes how to use his techniques in his books Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design. Dakara Nani?

Contribute Every quarter we award the Demosthenes Pebble (£25 Amazon token) for an outstanding speech. Please send your speeches to:



Kanso Reynolds quotes the architect Dr Koichi Kawana, ‘Simplicity means the achievement of the maximum effect with the minimum of means.’ That means elimination of the ornate, the florid and the over-embellished. Shizen Shizen has about it a sense of artlessness and an absence of •

Shibumi This means simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty. Guy Kawasaki says in the introduction to Presentation Zen we want: short, simple, legible, engaging. Wabi-Sabi

So what? At every stage in the presentation, put your feet in the shoes of the audience and ask what the point is you’re making, and why it matters.

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pretence or artificiality. It’s easy to pack information onto slides but Reynolds says, ‘Restraint is a beautiful thing but…hard.’

The acceptance of transience and imperfection. Wabi-Sabi says: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect. Wabi means poverty or lacking material wealth, but at the same time feeling freed from worldly things. Hara Hachi Bu Eat only till 80% full. A Japanese proverb says: “eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor”. As applied to presentations, it means leave them wanting more.


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

BOOK REVIEWS Alan Barker reviews two essential books for speechwriters. He will be running a workshop at the UK Speechwriters’ Guild spring conference in London.

speakers can achieve with their audiences’. At the base of the staircase is ‘Inform’; we progress through ‘Create understanding’. ‘Reinforce values’ and ‘Change attitudes’ to the ultimate purpose: ‘Elicit action’. Dean hangs a good deal of his material on this hierarchy, although I remained uncertain by the end of the book whether this was indeed a necessary structural sequence or a typology from which a speechwriter can simply choose.

the final chapters, outlining the actual job spec of a professional speechwriter: not merely a wordsmith, but counsellor, coach, fashion consultant and event manager. A primer this may be, but there’s enough real wisdom here to make it a worthwhile read for the seasoned speechwriter as much as for the rookie.

After purpose comes structure. It’s good to see Monroe’s motivational sequence given a good airing; the model’s hardly new, but it’s robust and deserves to be better known. When it comes to style, Dean once more supplements the usual advice with insight. Words should be crisp and simple, but amplification and repetition are essential tools in building the audience’s recall.

10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech by Fletcher Dean Vital Speeches of the Day, 2011


letcher Dean introduces his book as “a primer on how to write a speech”. And, as a primer, it works extremely well. Dean knows the worlds of both political and corporate speechwriting. He takes a pragmatic view of the speechwriter’s job. He’s not afraid to tackle the fuzzy areas: the relationship between script and notes; the fraught question of Powerpoint; and most importantly, the relationship between scriptwriters and their principals. Dean’s first command is to know the audience. What, above all, do you want them to do after listening to the speech? Although the early chapters are somewhat checklistheavy, Dean’s take is refreshing. At the heart of his approach is what he calls the Communication Hierarchy: five ‘communication possibilities

Dean is good, also, on stories. He justifies their use wisely and with ample references, and it’s typical of the book that we’re suddenly presented with a nugget of real wisdom: don’t put stories at the end of a speech, just when the audience is wanting you to wind up. The book’s packed with quotes, none more welcome than Isocrates’ famous dictum that “in all our actions as well as our thoughts speech is our guide”. And Dean uses real speeches to good effect (though I could have done with a little less of MacArthur’s 1962 prolonged West Point oration). He even manages to offer some new ideas on Powerpoint. I shall be checking out the Takahashi, Lessig, Monta and Kawasaki methods of slide design; and I like Dean’s suggestion to place the lectern to the left of the screen because audiences read from left to right. Nowhere is Dean’s good sense displayed more humanely than in

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Winning Arguments by Jay Heinrichs Penguin, 2011


ay Heinrichs is my kind of intellectual. After 26 years in publishing, he headed for the wilds of New Hampshire and devoted himself to writing. He resolutely avoids academia; in a scathing article, he castigates Harvard for systematically downgrading rhetoric as a subject of serious study over the last 200 years. According to his Businessweek profile, he starts every day at 4.30 with a strenuous workout and updates his websites before kissing his wife goodbye at 6.30 and walking or skiing to work in his log cabin office. He’s regularly hired by global corporations and sells ‘Talk Me Into It’ dog t-shirts on his ‘junk site’ for $18.99.


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild You do have to get through the lifestyle. And there is a fair amount of it in Winning Arguments. Persist, however, and you discover a serious, knowledgeable, practical thinker. The new title (the original title was Thank You for Arguing) is a tad misleading. Heinrich’s central tenet is that argument isn’t about scoring points but about seduction: making the other person desire what you desire. “You fight to win,” he writes; “you argue to achieve agreement.” His book is a guide to arguing as a consensual act. (Heinrichs is really good on consensus.) This is a rhetoric textbook for people who might not read textbooks. Everything’s here, presented with flair and – somewhat relentless – humour. Heinrichs takes all the elements of the dark art and illuminates them with vivid examples and catchy language. It’s quite an achievement. Take the genera causarum. These are the three branches of classical rhetoric: forensic (the rhetoric of the court room); epideictic (eulogies and suchlike); and deliberative (rhetoric of the political assembly). Heinrichs drags this recalcitrant material kicking and screaming into the real world. What’s the issue?, he asks. All issues boil down to three: blame (that’s judicial), values (epideictic) and choice (deliberative). Each has its own tense: blame uses the past, values the present and choice the future. His advice? “If you find an argument spinning out of control, try switching the tense.” And lo! Fusty rhetorical theory becomes instantly applicable. This is not dumbing down. For all his self-deprecating facetiousness, Heinrich clearly knows his stuff and steadfastly resists the simplistic. His book handsomely repays rereading, with plenty of explicatory margin notes, pointers to aid further study, and summaries revealing the nuggets of wisdom beneath

the anecdotery. (I trust he would approve my anthimeria.)


Above all, he understands the provisional nature of rhetorical argument: its aim is always to find agreement about what can never be proved, which puts it at the heart of any healthy democratic polity. Heinrich’s purpose in all this is to evangelise for rhetoric as a civilising discipline. “Our tribal mindset,” he writes, “has destroyed what little faith we had in deliberative debate.” (He’s referring to the US, of course, but the picture is all too recognisable in Europe.) “Even as individuals, we think so little of argument that we outsource it.” Remove the seductive power of rhetoric, and conflict escalates into violence. “Incivility smoulders all around us”; increased levels of invective betray “a collapse of faith in persuasion and consensus.” “It’s time,” he concludes, “to revive the founders’ original republican experiment and create a new corps of rhetorically-educated citizens.” Winning Arguments is a powerful tool in that experiment; and if his project benefits from the sale of ‘Audi alteram partem’ wall clocks ($11.99), I for one am not complaining.



y essential piece of equipment when I wrote speeches for Tony Blair was a Post-it Note. Ted Sorensen, JFK’s writer, once told me that if you can’t get the basic point on to a Post-It Note, then you don’t know what it is. And if you don’t know what the basic point is, then it’s not your words that are blocked, it’s your brain. Philip Collins, The Times, 21/12/2012.

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A regular column giving extracts of unintelligible speeches delivered by key public figures - please send in your examples.


would like to talk to you about economic modelling and policy analysis with a particular reference to limitations of analysis based round the concept of a representative agent. I will do this by focusing on models which represent the economy as a collection of individual households in different circumstances and their use to address important policy questions Even if they do not provide all the answers to the questions we might wish to ask, they have the prospect of being able to help policy-makers come to informed decisions and understand the pressures that they face. I would like to describe the way in which such models can be used to address a heterogeneous range of topics: the effects of credit constraints and fears about credit availability, tax structure, social security and pension arrangements, and influences on the take-up of education by mature students. From a speech Household behaviour and policy analysis – by Martin Weale, External Member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Bank of England, delivered at the New Zealand Economists’ Network 2nd Annual Conference, 2012.


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

TRENDS, TECHNIQUES AND TIPS by Ian Griffin, speechwriter and blogger at Professionally Speaking. 1: CEOs need a confident confidant Sitting in meetings at major Silicon Valley companies such as Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, I’m often the only person in the room without a few thousand people reporting to them or a multibillion dollar target to meet. As the speechwriter, I’m the one person in the room the CEO can turn to without an agenda of my own to advance. A CEO once told me “Ian, it’s lonely at the top. I’ve seen every scam that managers can pull to cover their rear ends. I need someone like you who can tell it like it is.” Key Lesson: Speechwriters with the confidence to speak up become the trusted advisor of a senior executive. 2: Be an impartial observer I was once brought in to edit an Annual Report for a European client with four separate divisions. My role was to resolve the different viewpoints of each group. The VP of Communications needed an outside consultant with the independence required to be able to write a cohesive document. Executive communications professionals are in a unique position to be an impartial observer in large organisations with multiple departments and competing interests. Key Lesson: Take the initiative and tell the truth, no matter what certain executives want to hear. But don’t take sides within a company. We need to keep lines of communication open to all parties. 3: Take complexity out A speechwriter is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. But that’s our hidden value to a company. It’s my job to

know a little bit about everything the company does, and who to talk to when I need details. But lack of detail is rarely an issue. Time and again, I’ve asked SMEs for the background information needed for five minutes of a speech only to be given enough data for a two-day seminar. My job is to take the complexity out–to find a way to communicate the message without putting the audience to sleep. Key Lesson: Learn to simplify. Only include what is necessary to convey what is essential. As Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” 4: Tell compelling stories People may not remember what you did or said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Audiences forget facts, but they remember stories. Once you get past the jargon, the corporate world is an endless source of fascinating stories. I’ve found the best source of great stories for speeches come from informal chats when you are sitting down over coffee or, as I did one memorable afternoon, sharing a beer and pizza with the CEO in Boston’s North End. We talked about our time there as students. He shared a story about the lessons he’d learned outside the Harvard classroom that I used in a future speech. Key Lesson: Always listen for stories executives tell about their childhood, family life, hobbies, early career and more. 5: Embrace multimedia The one-hour keynote is an endangered species. Conference organisers know audiences have short attention spans. Given travel budget restrictions, many organisations are turning to virtual meetings. Executives now need to feel comfortable on camera as well as on the podium.

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These days it’s not enough to write clever speeches, you need to keep current with the latest in multimedia technology. Key Lesson: Digital media expands the boundaries of executive communications. 6: Open up the backchannel The audience is no longer silent. They might look like they are sitting quietly, but a raging debate on what Cliff Atkinson called The Backchannel can occur within and beyond the confines of the presentation venue. I’m amazed at the resistance some speakers have to this. My experience curating Twitter hashtags for specific events shows that there’s a rapidly emerging opportunity to magnify the impact of a speech and increase the reach beyond the walls of the auditorium. Key Lesson: Make sure your executive has a Twitter account and use it for shameless self-promotion and to stimulate a lively debate before, during and after each presentation they make. 7: Learn to ask the right questions Our role is to ask what headline the CEO wants the speech to produce, to find out the audience’s hot buttons, and to uncover the unique point of view the speaker brings to the issue. If there’s one lesson I’ve taken away from the work I’ve done for clients, it’s to always be ready to ask “Why is that?” when they suggest points they want to make in a speech. When they give an answer, have the courage to ask the same question again. It’s often only after they answer for the third time that the core of the speech is revealed. Key Lesson: Don’t hurry to get to a final draft. Be professional and respect deadlines, but keep asking questions until you reach an answer that will make the audience sit up and take notice.


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild



our Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Heads of State and Government, Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is with humility and gratitude that we stand here together, to receive this award on behalf of the European Union. At a time of uncertainty, this day reminds people across Europe and the world of the Union’s fundamental purpose: to further the fraternity between European nations, now and in the future. It is our work today. It has been the work of generations before us. And it will be the work of generations after us. Here in Oslo, I want to pay homage to all the Europeans who dreamt of a continent at peace with itself, and to all those who day by day make this dream a reality. This award belongs to them. War is as old as Europe. Our continent bears the scars of spears and swords, canons and guns, trenches and tanks, and more. The tragedy of it all resonates in the words of Herodotus, 25 centuries ago: “In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.” Yet, after two terrible wars engulfed the continent and the world with it, finally lasting peace came to Europe. In those grey days, its cities were in ruins, the hearts of many still simmering with mourning and resentment. How difficult it then seemed, as Winston Churchill said, “to regain the simple joys and hopes that make life worth living”.

As a child born in Belgium just after the war, I heard the stories first-hand. My grandmother spoke about the Great War. In 1940, my father, then seventeen, had to dig his own grave. He got away; otherwise I would not be here today. So what a bold bet it was, for Europe’s Founders, to say, yes, we can break this endless cycle of violence, we can stop the logic of vengeance, we can build a brighter future, together. What power of the imagination. Of course, peace might have come to Europe without the Union. Maybe. We will never know. But it would never have been of the same quality. A lasting peace, not a frosty cease-fire. To me, what makes it so special, is reconciliation. In politics as in life, reconciliation is the most difficult thing. It goes beyond forgiving and forgetting, or simply turning the page. To think of what France and Germany had gone through, and then take this step. Signing a Treaty of Friendship. Each time I hear these words – Freundschaft, Amitié –, I am moved. They are private words, not for treaties between nations. But the will to not let history repeat itself, to do something radically new, was so strong that new words had to be found. For people Europe was a promise, Europe equalled hope. When Konrad Adenauer came to Paris to conclude the Coal and Steel Treaty, in 1951, one evening he found a gift waiting at his hotel. It was a war medal, une Croix de Guerre, that had belonged to a French soldier. His daughter, a young student, had left it with a little note for the Chancellor, as a gesture of reconciliation and hope.

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I can see many other stirring images before me. Leaders of six States assembled to open a new future, in Rome, città eterna. Willy Brandt kneeling down in Warsaw. The dockers of Gdansk, at the gates of their shipyard. Mitterrand and Kohl hand in hand. Two million people linking Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius in a human chain, in 1989. These moments healed Europe. But symbolic gestures alone cannot cement peace. This is where the European Union’s “secret weapon” comes into play: an unrivalled way of binding our interests so tightly that war becomes materially impossible. Through constant negotiations, on ever more topics, between ever more countries. It’s the golden rule of Jean Monnet: “Mieux vaut se disputer autour d’une table que sur un champ de bataille.” (“Better fight around a table than on a battle-field.”) If I had to explain it to Alfred Nobel, I would say: not just a peace congress, a perpetual peace congress! Admittedly, some aspects can be puzzling, and not only to outsiders. Ministers from landlocked countries passionately discussing fishquota. Europarlementarians from Scandinavia debating the price of olive oil. The Union has perfected the art of compromise. No drama of victory or defeat, but ensuring all countries emerge victorious from talks. For this, boring politics is only a small price to pay. It worked. Peace is now self-evident. War has become inconceivable. Yet ‘inconceivable’ does not mean ‘impossible’. And that is why we are gathered here today. Europe must keep its promise of peace. I believe this is still our Union’s ultimate purpose. But Europe can no longer rely on this promise alone to inspire citizens.


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild In a way, it’s a good thing; wartime memories are fading. Even if not yet everywhere. Soviet rule over Eastern Europe ended just two decades ago. Horrendous massacres took place in the Balkans shortly after. The children born at the time of Srebrenica will only turn eighteen next year. But they already have little brothers and sisters born after that war: the first real post-war generation of Europe. This must remain so. So, where there was war, there is now peace. But another historic task now lies ahead of us: keeping peace where there is peace. After all, history is not a novel, a book we can close after a Happy Ending: we remain fully responsible for what is yet to come. This couldn’t be more clear than it is today, when we are hit by the worst economic crisis in two generations, causing great hardship among our people, and putting the political bonds of our Union to the test. Parents struggling to make ends meet, workers recently laid off, students who fear that, however hard they try, they won’t get that first job: when they think about Europe, peace is not the first thing that comes to mind… When prosperity and employment, the bedrock of our societies, appear threatened, it is natural to see a hardening of hearts, the narrowing of interests, even the return of long-forgotten faultlines and stereotypes. For some, not only joint decisions, but the very fact of deciding jointly, may come into doubt. And while we must keep a sense of proportion – even such tensions don’t take us back to the darkness of the past –, the test Europe is currently facing is real. If I can borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln at the time of another continental test, what is

being assessed today is “whether that Union, or any Union so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure”. We answer with our deeds, confident we will succeed. We are working very hard to overcome the difficulties, to restore growth and jobs. There is of course sheer necessity. But there is more that guides us: the will to remain masters of our own destiny, a sense of togetherness, and in a way speaking to us from the centuries, the idea of Europa itself.



ory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, the advertising agency, is the UK Speechwriters’ Guild Business Communicator of the Year 2013.

The presence of so many European leaders here today underlines our common conviction: that we will come out of this together, and stronger. Strong enough in the world to defend our interests and promote our values. We all work to leave a better Europe for the children of today and those of tomorrow. So that, later, others might turn and judge: that generation, ours, preserved the promise of Europe. Today’s youth is already living in a new world. For them Europe is a daily reality. Not the constraint of being in the same boat. No, the richness of being able to freely share, travel and exchange. To share and shape a continent, experiences, a future. Our continent, risen from the ashes after 1945 and united in 1989, has a great capacity to reinvent itself. It is to the next generations to take this common adventure further. I hope they will seize this responsibility with pride. And that they will be able to say, as we here today: Ich bin ein Europäer. Je suis fier d’être européen. I am proud to be European. “From war to peace: a European tale”, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture on behalf of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Oslo, 10 December 2012.

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The award is made to the most outstanding public speaker in business over the past 12 months. Last year’s winner was Gillian Tett, the financial journalist, the year before that it was Geoff Burch, the author and motivational speaker. In 2009 the winner was Sir Martin Broughton, Chairman of British Airways. The citation from the judges said: “Mr Sutherland‘s good example (which can be viewed on many YouTube clips) illustrates how wasteful it is to try to engage audiences with Excel spreadsheets and complex PowerPoint slides. He spreads optimism with insights like, ‘recession is the mother of invention’ and ‘human understanding is the future of business and Government’. These are the kind of sentiments that entertain audiences. Business leaders like Mr Sutherland, who can inspire audiences to try new things, will ultimately lead the way out of recession.”


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild



he founders of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild have officially launched the European Speechwriter Network. The new website can be found at Brian Jenner, the organiser, said: “Since the accession of the Baltic states and the Eastern European states, English has cemented its place as the lingua franca of the EU. “The European Speechwriter Network will bring together those specialists who write speeches in English for their bosses, even if

English is not their native language.”

Luuk van Middelaar, speechwriter to Herman van Rompuy, was recently featured preparing a speech in a YouTube video produced by the European Council.”

In a visit to Brussels in January, Brian Jenner met with speechwriters to discuss an inaugural conference in Brussels in September 2013. “We’ve had a number of Dutch, Danish and German speechwriters come to our conferences over the past few years, so the new organisation reflects the ‘panEuropean’ scope of the role these days. “The European Commission is quite open about its use of professional speechwriters.

José Iturri, an interpreter at the European Commission, asking a question at the UK Speechwriters’ Guild conference in Bournemouth.



arlier this year, a man of considerable wealth, domiciled abroad, contacted me to say he wanted a speech for his 60th birthday. He had completed the renovation of a house in central London and was planning a combined celebration. “I just want a five minute speech he says to deliver in front of a dozen friends and family in my house in London.” I told him I would have to interview him and I quoted him a fee. Any landmark birthday is going to be an emotional occasion. It’s a moment to take stock. Like Christmas, it’s supposed to be a happy occasion, but like Christmas, it can expose uncomfortable truths. If I’m looking for good material for the speech, I’ve got to dig a little. My first questions was: ‘Who do you want to thank?’

This is an open questions which can lead to discussion of parents, wives and children. ‘Nobody’. I sensed then this was going to be a difficult client. When I give talks on how to do social speeches, I suggest a technique I found in a book by the psychotherapist Irvin Yalom. He advocates an exercise called ‘rippling’: acknowledging those people who have influenced your life. All too often we wait until a person is dead before we tell them what we appreciated about them: Yalom says identify those people who have helped to shape your life and write a letter to express your gratitude. He goes further and says rather than waiting until their funeral, arrange a ‘gratitude’ visit to that person, and read your letter out. So much for the exercise. Why is it relevant for speechwriting? Giving a wedding speech or a birthday speech needs to start with appreciation - for two reasons.

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Firstly, the unexpected thing is, when a person reads out what they’ve written, they often can’t help welling up. I’m not advocating delivering schmaltzy speeches, but key into those buried emotions and you’re going to find rich material. Secondly, the impulse of many inexperienced speakers is to be abusive, because they think it’s funny. A roast is an American ritual whereby the speakers are rude to the target as a backhanded compliment. This works in the hands of professional comedians. It might be possible for you to copy them, but when you’re looking for humour, start off working out what you like about the person. It means the speech is framed correctly. Back to my wealthy client. ‘Do you have any children?’ I got the sense that he was resentful of them not fulfilling their potential. And he wasn’t going to tell me about his parents or any ex-wives.


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild ‘Your date of birth?’ The date of birth at least gave me the chance to find something significant about the time he was born. I could also speculate on how he felt when he was 21. ‘Have you had any memorable birthdays?’ He told me a story about an ex-girlfriend. This turned out to be stony ground. I tried to probe into a different part of his life. What inspired his business success? He seemed taken aback by such a question. He was clearly not used to introspection. He told me how he’d been lucky buying properties and he learnt that central London prices never dipped. ‘Do you have any funny stories from your business career?’ He explained how he’d once had a purchaser who didn’t understand the difference between freehold and leasehold. I was hoping for some kind of punchline, but it never came. He told me he wasn’t moving back to England because it’s going to the dogs. Sometimes it takes 24 hours for good material to surface. I decided to bring the interview to a close. I said I would start writing and ask more questions later. I Googled him. I do this for most of the people I write for, ever since one client asked me to call her back on a premium line, which I later discovered, was also used to run an escort agency. The results didn’t fill me with confidence. He was rich, but he’d been involved in scrapes. But, you never can tell, last year I did some work for someone had been described in the House of Commons as a man who should be ‘shunned as a business leper’. I got my money. The next day I fired off some extra

questions, and I got the following replies: Have you had any more thoughts about your speech? This is in your court. Are there any of your friends in the room who are your age or older who you can tease?

which expressed his dismay at the admission of women to the club. You can’t simultaneously disdain and amuse your audience. After the date of delivery I politely emailed him again to settle the balance. He emailed back: ‘Sorry, rejected it.’ I was tempted to argue, but I concluded he gave me some useful material of his own.

None. Do you ever bump into the neighbours?


No. The strategy in this case has to be to find some bland one-liners that are appropriate without being irrelevant. I put in a joke about how his doctor had recommended Viagra and prune juice. But he’d said, no thank you, he wanted to know whether he was coming or going. I put in jokes about his children, jokes about how he was born the same year as Vladimir Putin and Jimmy Connors. I improvised something about his attempts to learn French. I put together nine minutes of text for his five-minute speech, so he could skim off the cream. He agreed to pay 50% up front, then 50% on sight. I sent him the speech. It was followed by radio silence. The speech was to be made a few days later, so I sent a follow-up email saying I was happy to work with him on amendments. No reply. There’s a good Jewish proverb: With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too. As speechwriters, we can help, but we’re not in the miracle business. We can’t be expected to shore up a crumbling life. It reminded me of a time when a president of a golf club wanted me to write a ‘funny speech’

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1) Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick 2) Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before 3) Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion 4) Thou Shalt Tell a Story 5) Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy 6) Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success. 7) Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness. 8) Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good. 9) Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech. 10) Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee


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February 2013 | Volume 11

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

SPEECHWRITER PROFILE Frank van Hoorn is speechwriter at the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. He is also author of the book ‘Vuil van de reis’ (‘Travel-stained’ as well as ‘The Stain of Travel’) How do you become a speechwriter in the Netherlands? Merely by chance. Can you remember the first speech you ever wrote? Yes, it was in my second year at university. I remember working on it through the night. I survived on strong coffee and loud music. Are you employed to write speeches in English as well as Dutch? How does that work? Yes, I write in both English and Dutch. Professional language translators check the final version of speeches in English. Is it easy to get access to the ministers you write for?

his book ‘The Places in Between’ on Afghanistan very much. And I recently enjoyed watching his TedXTalk on why democracy matters. What is your book about? The book reveals how dictatorships in Europe used tourism for the purpose of propaganda. And it is an account of my travels in former European dictatorships. The leading question is: how do they handle the relics of dictatorship? Can you visit the grave of Benito Mussolini? Is the birthplace of Enver Hoxha open to the public? What happened to Hitler’s flat in Munich? In short: a dictatour of Europe. Tell us about the ‘speechwriting’ scene in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately not. It is hardly a tradition in the Netherlands.

Dutch speechwriters are associated in a network called ’t Doode Paert. Or, in English: The Dead Horse Society. The (ironic) name is derived from the Dutch saying ‘trekken aan een dood paard’ (pulling a dead horse). It means something like ‘being on a mission impossible’. Need I say more?

What do you think of British Euroscepticism?

Are there any Dutch writers you recommend?

From a speechwriter’s point of view it is rather amusing. It brought us famous speeches such as Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges Speech and Geoffrey Howe’s Resignation Speech. And it brought us entertaining speakers like Nigel Farage. Quite something.

I recommend Cees Nooteboom and Frank Westerman. Nooteboom’s novel ‘All Soul’s Day’ is one of the best I have ever read. And Westerman is one of our finest non-fiction writers. I especially endorse ‘Ararat’ and ‘Engineers of the Soul’.

It could be better, it could be worse. Did you do debating at school?

Who is your favourite Englishspeaking politician?

their mother tongue. My tip is to keep it as basic as possible. This may lead to some quarreling with professional language translators. In these discussions it is important to stand your ground.

DATES FOR THE DIARY Spring Leadership & Communication Conference 15-17 May 2013 Institute for Government, London To buy tickets go to: http://internationalspeechwriting. Essentials of Speechwriting Training 6 June 2013 Institute for Government, London To register go to: http://essentialsofspeechwriting. Autumn Leadership & Communication Conference 19 & 20 September 2013 Résidence Palace, Brussels To buy tickets go to: http://europeanspeechwriters.

Do you have a tip for writing for multilingual audiences?

The Speechwriter is edited by Brian Jenner

Most speeches for multilingual audiences are in English. For many people in the audience this is not

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That must be Rory Stewart. A politician as well as a writer. I liked

W W W. U K S P E E C H W R I T E R S G U I L D . C O . U K


The Speechwriter February 2013