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June 2011 | Volume 06

The Speechwriter Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild Welcome Welcome to the sixth 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.

MASTERCLASS by Max Atkinson

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ax Atkinson’s classic book Lend Me Your Ears has dozens of tips for public speakers, but it is his chapter six: ‘The Persuasive Power of Words’, that provides a summary of the most powerful tools available to a speechwriter. One reason why they are eschewed so regularly is that they are incredibly simple. You can construct entire speeches using combinations of these techniques, and indeed President Obama usually does. They should be pasted on the wall of every speechwriter’s study. They are: CONTRASTS I come to bury Caesar not to praise him. ~ Shakespeare

Contribute We need your speeches. Most of the examples in this edition are taken from the Americans. We want to raise standards in the UK. Please send examples of speeches to:

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info@ukspeechwritersguild.co.uk

CONTRADICTIONS Advice is judged by results, not intentions. ~ Cicero COMPARISONS I have taken more out of alcohol, than alcohol has taken out of me. ~ Winston Churchill OPPOSITES Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. ~ Napoleon

PUZZLES Puzzle: This is a moment of some mixed emotions for me. Solution: I haven’t been on prime time television for quite a while. ~ Ronald Reagan RHETORICAL QUESTIONS Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? ~ Shakespeare LISTS OF THREE THREE IDENTICAL WORDS No, no, no. ~ Margaret Thatcher THREE DIFFERENT WORDS I am the way, the truth and the light. ~ New Testament THREE PHRASES Government of the people by the people for the people. ~ Abraham Lincoln THREE CLAUSES Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi THREE SENTENCES Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. ~ Winston Churchill Why does the rule of three work so well? From conversation analysis, Max Atkinson suggests it is because three gives the impression of completeness.

PHRASE REVERSALS Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. ~ Plato

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BOOK REVIEWS

the Plain English Campaign, which is refreshing, and at the same time he never sounds arrogant. He manages to make dull points about language engaging and memorable. There’s not much specific about speechwriting, but in fact the message I took away was that all good writing is based on the principles of fine speechwriting.

I spotted Neil Taylor doing a presentation about using language effectively on The Economist website. When you write these kind of books it’s very easy to be worthy and a bit dull, Taylor uses lots of fresh examples (Hemingway’s best short story), unusual perspectives (write your message in haiku) and good advice (create a contents list for long documents). What I really like about the book is its tone of voice – a subject much discussed by copywriters. Taylor manages to be encouraging and fun, without being corny or condescending. He’s not afraid to take a pop at Lynn Truss and John Humphrys, English teachers and

The authors show how Max Atkinson’s analysis of political rhetoric is equally applicable to the spellbinding oratory of the gurus. Reading it fills you with confidence as a speechwriter, because you’re studying the flesh and bones of oral communication. What many people might find slightly disturbing is how they borrow from techniques used by charismatic preachers like John Wesley. Sure enough I watched some Tony Robbins after reading the book and saw some rather clever sleights of hand being used. Once you know this stuff, it’s like having the equations to produce a brilliant speech. The principles are simple. Of course there are elements that come with the mystique of the speaker: style, hand gesture and projecting message completion points, but this can rarely be influenced by the speechwriter.

Brilliant Business Writing How to inspire, engage and persuade through words By Neil Taylor, Published by Prentice Hall, (248 pages) ISBN 0273744585, £10.99

which paint themselves as being at the cutting edge.

Management Speak Why We Listen to What Management Gurus Tell Us By David Greatbatch and Timothy Clark, Published by Routledge (156 pages) ISBN 041530623X, £29.99

The book was limited slightly by its repetition of examples and small selection of speakers analysed. You can now see them all in action on YouTube. I’ll never think of a guru in quite the same way again.

Brian Jenner www.thespeechwriter.co.uk

This book is a laconic, but rather devastating academic analysis of how business gurus ply their trade. Part of me thinks there may be a streak of envy in all this because academics are notoriously poor communicators. All the same the authors dissect how the gurus work their magic. They tell rather banal stories, they avoid criticising the audience directly, they make everyone laugh and they craft tales

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INSPIRATION

Openings

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come before you as a man of print, not the spoken word. A broadsheet editor determined to follow the trusted maxim: all power tends to corrupt, power point corrupts absolutely. Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times, Hugh Cudlipp Lecture, 31 January 2011

“Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 pounds 19 and six, result happiness.” “Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.” Perhaps we could change our motto to “Micawber was right”? Except I’m not quite sure that “happiness” or indeed “misery” describe the atmosphere in the BBC as we seek to live within our new means. Last October we agreed a new licence fee settlement with the Government to freeze the licence fee until April 2017.

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hen I enter Broadcasting House, my eyes are often drawn to the BBC’s motto, inscribed beneath its coat of arms.

Helen Boaden, Director, BBC News, Speech given at VLV Annual Spring Conference, 12 April 2011

It reads, of course, “nation shall speak peace unto nation.” Our motto goes back to the BBC’s formation, on 1 January 1927, when it was adopted by the new Corporation to signify its purpose. (Incidentally, it’s said to be an adaptation from the Book of Micah: “nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Not a message for today’s news agenda!) I occasionally find myself wondering about that motto at this difficult time for the BBC. If we were to try to write a new one for the BBC of today, could we do any better? You all know the great Wilkins Micawber quote about money. He opined to David Copperfield:

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’ve seen many things cited as the cause of the recession: the sub-prime market, complex credit derivatives, even Alan Greenspan. But the book Nudge named and shamed a somewhat surprising culprit. None other than Homer Simpson.

But when we laugh at Homer, there’s a little laughter of recognition. Because in truth, we’ve all fallen victim at some point to shorttermitis. I believe this focus solely on the short-term has led to the two biggest challenges we face today: Economic and Environmental. The financial meltdown stands as a stark warning of living beyond our means. But the greater challenge is climate change. And only by thinking long term do we stand any chance of solving both. So today I’d like to talk about how we deal with the environmental challenge, and why I think it will be business that leads the way. Now that may sound surprising - after all governments surely have the most crucial role to play? Well, governments must work together to agree global targets and co-ordinate the assault on climate change. And regionally and nationally, they need to create a clear and stable framework. Only this framework can enable business to act and invest with a clear understanding of the risks and parameters. But I firmly believe that it is business which can most effectively drive change, both through its operations and its ability to inspire change in others. Speech by Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive, Sky ‘Silencing our inner Homer’, 16 February 2011

Or, more precisely, the Homer in all of us. Especially the part that fixates on short term rewards rather than long term consequences. Now of course, Homer’s an extreme example of short-term thinking. In a recent episode on Sky, he even tried to sell one of his livers to pay off a single debt.

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

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Substance

If we can get that same sense of national pride and togetherness in all our communities, we will all be safer as a result. David Cameron, Speech to the Community Security Trust, 3 March 2011

Endings

he Prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish community in Babylonia saying: “Seek the welfare of the City to which I have exiled you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its prosperity shall you prosper.”

The point is that it’s possible – and necessary - to have more than one loyalty in life. To be a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen. And to realise there is no contradiction between them. You can love this country. Take pride in its history. Be moved by its values. Even cry with its football fans every four years, and still be a proud Jew. Jewish people play the National Anthem and the Hatikva, toast the Queen and the President of the State of Israel. We’ve done it here tonight. Proud to be British; and proud to be Jewish.

This is the United States of America. We are the American people. We have seen difficulties before, and we always overcome. We can and we will do it again. We will rise up, as our forefathers did, with the assurance of our timetested conservative values, the wisdom of the American people, and the courage of our convictions.

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And the Talmudic rabbis declared it a religious principle that Jews should observe the law of the land as binding.

We’ve had enough of the hype and speeches filled with rhetoric that soars – but takes us in the wrong direction. This is about rolling up our sleeves, plowing forward, standing tall, and getting the job done.

Thank you. God bless you. And God Bless the United States of America!

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nd, Mr. President, stop apologising for our country.

The bullies, terrorists and tyrants of the world have lots to apologise for. America does not. My friends, none of this is going to be easy. If prosperity were easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. And, if security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure. They’re not. It takes an extraordinary effort. It takes extraordinary commitment. It takes extraordinary strength to stand up to those who oppose these principles. But we can do it. Valley Forge wasn’t easy. Settling the West wasn’t easy. Winning World War II wasn’t easy. Going to the moon wasn’t easy. This ain’t about easy.

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Tim Pawlenty: Restore American Dream by Restoring American Common Sense, Speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Washington, 11 February 2011

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ena koutou katoa.

Today I represent the Queen. I convey to you Her Majesty’s message of deep sympathy and condolence. My grandmother once said that grief is the price we pay for love. Here today, we love and we grieve. We honour the lives and memories of all those who did not survive the earthquake. New Zealanders and those from many countries around the world who came to this city as visitors or to make it their home, our thoughts and our prayers are with their families, wherever they may be. I also bring a personal message. It arises from seeing this tragedy unfold from afar. It is a message about strength, through kindness, about fortitude.

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June 2011 | Volume 06

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild It is to them that we pledge our duty. A duty to ensure together, that no one is written off, no one is discarded - no one is left behind. That together, through our reforms, this becomes the nation of the second chance. For you who are so close to these events and have lost so much, it must be hard to grasp the degree of admiration, indeed awe, with which you are regarded by the rest of the world. Courage and understated determination have always been the hallmark of New Zealanders. Of Cantabrians. These things the world has long known. But to see them so starkly demonstrated over these terrible, painful months has been humbling. Put simply, you are an inspiration to all people. I count myself enormously privileged to be here to tell you that. This community, more than any other in the world, can appreciate the full horror of what is unfolding in Japan. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. In the last two days I have heard tales of great tragedy, but also of extraordinary bravery and selfless courage. Throughout, one phrase units them all. With the Queen’s heartfelt good wishes and those of the Prince of Wales and other members of my family, I say it to you now. Kia kaha, be strong. Prince William’s memorial speech to Christchurch, Hagley Park, New Zealand, 18 March 2011

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once promised that whatever I did in politics I would do it for people suffering from worklessness and dependency in housing estates all over Britain.

The 2011 Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture Iain Duncan Smith. Welfare Reform the wider context, 15 March 2011

I am more passionate than ever to fulfil that promise. Because this isn’t really about our national finances. That’s just the starting point. It’s not the destination. Yes we have to balance the budget. But beyond that there’s a higher purpose. The purpose of changing lives. Of moving people trapped in the tyranny of self doubt and dependency, To the freedom of enterprise, endeavour and self belief. Surely that is our duty, and Conservatives have always been good at duty. A duty to put our country first; after all we are the party of the Nation, or we are nothing, remember? But this Nation, for all its beauty and majesty isn’t just a piece of land or a geographical term, no; it is the home of a free people. For this nation is its people, the British people, for it is they who shaped it, gave form to it, lived in it, loved it and too often, died for it. A nation, where everyone’s value should be measured anew and parents’ hope for their children can outreach their own span.

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June 2011 | Volume 06

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

MEMBERS OF THE UK SPEECHWRITERS’ GUILD WIN CICERO AWARDS

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wo members of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild – Darragh Gray (for Stephen Green) from HSBC and Roger Lakin (for Gerard Lemos) from the Consumer Financial Education Body - have won prestigious Cicero Awards for speeches they’ve written in the past 12 months. They won best-written speech by an organisation, banking and financial and best-written speech on the environment. Here are two short extracts from their winning speeches:

Money: The Root of All Happiness? Writer, Roger Lakin Delivered at the Royal Society of Arts, London, England, 9 February 2011

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his year is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. So I intend to follow in a 400-year old tradition tonight – and misquote from the King James Bible. The 1611 version didn’t actually say ‘money is the root of all evil.’ But everybody thinks it did. It definitely did not say that money is the root of all happiness. But I’m going to argue that it can be. Before I explore that idea, I’d like to thank everyone for coming. Gallup and the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Researchers published a survey three days before Christmas. It was their annual survey of international economic prospects. Called – magnificently – the Global Barometer

of Hope and Despair.

stemming from love of humanity, a state of being productive to humans”.

The nation most hopeful for 2011 was – wait for it – Nigeria. And the nation most despairing – France. Overwhelmingly, the most prosperous nations in the survey were the gloomiest about the future Not for nothing is ennui a French word. But in case I insult anyone in the audience, joie de vivre is also a French term – and it’s joie de vivre we’re concerned with tonight. In a speech in 1968 Robert Kennedy said that ‘GDP measures everything except that which makes life worth- while.’ It’s a bit more complicated than that. I suspect most of us here this evening would find it pretty hard – without much money – to live a life that felt worthwhile. So the interesting question is not whether money is important. Of course it is. But why is it important? What difference does money really make? I think we pretty much know the answer to that. Writer, Darragh Gray Delivered as the Pears Partnership Lecture, London Business School, London, England, 2 November 2010

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here are few words with a richer and more inspiring etymology than ‘philanthropy’. It can be traced back over two thousand years to the Greek tragedian Aeschylus and comes from the Greek “philos”, meaning benefitting, and “anthropos”, meaning humanity. Philanthropy was then later defined by the Platonic Academy as being “a state of well-educated habits

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

So the concept and act of human philanthropy has been around for a very long time indeed. But in many ways, the subject under discussion, corporate philanthropy, is still in its infancy in relative terms. Of course, there are several examples of philanthropy associated with business leaders in former times which still inspire us today, like the Victorian George Cadbury who developed his model village at Bourneville for the benefit of his staff to, and I quote, “alleviate the evils of modern more cramped living conditions”, for instance. Nevertheless, until the 1950s, US law largely prohibited companies from engaging on social issues without a very clear link to business purpose. And even today, there are those who would vehemently argue that philanthropy has no place in the corporate world. Milton Friedman, the arch defender of free market principles, fiercely believed that, quote, “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” In fact, in 1970, he wrote that the idea that businesses should set out to engage in broader issues was “pure and unadulterated socialism”. This is still received wisdom among some business leaders 40 years later. Only this May, the Chairman of one multinational company said in an interview that corporate philanthropy is a “misuse” of shareholder money and “you shouldn’t do good with money which isn’t yours”.

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June 2011 | Volume 06

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

Use Your Creative Freezer by Brian Jenner

freeze them. Otherwise they go to waste. It’s the same when I hear something that would go well in a speech. When I’m listening to the radio, or reading a magazine, or just in conversation, and I hear something striking, funny or unusual, I write it down.

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he most obvious analogy between preparing a speech and defrosting the freezer is that defrosting the freezer is a task that it’s never a convenient time to start. But what we resist, persists. It’s going to take five hours, there’s a whole load of stuff which should be eaten up first, but, face it, you can’t get the draw closed because the shelves are encrusted with ice. You can make another analogy between the freezer and consciousness. We wouldn’t normally expect someone to peer into our freezer and judge us by the contents. What do all my oven chips and pizzas say about me? In fact it’s perhaps is a good symbol of our unconscious and the unconscious can be the source of creativity. The first speechwriting tip I want to give you is that stocking up your storehouse of creative ideas is like freezing food. You know when you go to the supermarket, and there are three-forone deals. Well, you can’t really eat three steaks in three days, you have to take them out of the packaging and put them into plastic bags and

In my notebook, I have titles like, ‘Birthdays’ and underneath I put everything that is relevant to birthdays. It’s the equivalent of putting things in freezer bags and labeling them. Labeling is important, because you’ve got to be able to find them again quickly. I’ve got over 250 pages of the stuff. Whenever an enquiry comes in for a birthday speech, I open up my Word document with all my notes. Because I’ve been doing this for four years, I’ve usually got a brilliant line or story which I collected earlier. I can then ‘defrost’ it and put into the speech. It is often a case of ‘defrosting’ because I don’t just drop it in the speech, I may change it slightly or adapt it to the context. That pretty much sums up the difference between an amateur and a professional speechwriter. The amateur relies on his memory, the professional is preparing every day.

It’s the same with writing your speech. Do some work, and then leave it and come back to it a few hours later . There are always dilemmas. When you defrost the freezer, you try and eat things up, but there’s always something like a large leg of lamb. You don’t want to eat it now and you don’t want to throw it out, but it’ll go out of date soon. In the same way in speechwriting you always have ideas that are great, but they don’t quite fit. You have to become decisive, you have to be prepared to defrost that expensive leg of lamb and not necessarily use it for the occasion it was intended. Maybe defrost it, turn it into lamb curry and then refreeze it. Things can always be recycled for a more appropriate time. Finally, my last speechwriting tip. Whenever you write a speech, try to describe something in terms of something else. Use metaphors and images, because that helps people visualize and remember your speech. By comparing writing with defrosting the freezer, I think about it in a different way.

The next tip I want to give you is that speechwriting, like defrosting, isn’t something that can be done in a hurry.

I have a fresh perspective on the problem. The invention of the freezer meant that human beings enjoyed a vastly more varied diet and improved health resulting from improved nutrition.

You get started with a pan of boiling water or a hairdryer. But you have to go away and do something else while it is defrosting.

Speechwriters who use the technique described in this article can provide a similar service to audiences.

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

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June 2011 | Volume 06

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild Third: Always have a contingency plan; always be prepared for the possibility that you may find yourself suddenly unemployed. That means belonging to professional societies that have job banks; that means cultivating recruiters before you need them; that means scouting potential employers.

SPEECHWRITER SURVIVAL SKILLS

I’ve always liked General George Patton’s definition of success. Patton said that success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. And he was right.

By Hal Gordon

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peechwriting can be a satisfying and lucrative career. But our jobs hang by a thread, and we can never afford to forget that. There are two ways of dealing with this insecurity. One is by using speechwriting as a steppingstone to an editorial or managerial position. The other is by cultivating speechwriter survival skills. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the course of my own career: First: Always remember that you have two clients: the person you write for - and yourself. And you are just as important as the client. There’s no conflict of interest here. If you’re working to make your client look good, you’re also making yourself look good. For example: You’re hired to write speeches? Offer to ghost an article or op/ed for your client. If it gets published, the client looks good and you’ve got another choice writing sample to add to

It also means learning how to market yourself. Here again, I recommend seeking opportunities to speak and to publish outside of your regular job. I know that freelance speechwriting on the side can be a dicey proposition, but you can still write an article, review a book, and add otherwise add writings samples to your portfolio.

your portfolio; something to show potential employers that you’re good at different kinds of writing. Second, Be visible. One reason why speechwriters are so vulnerable is that we’re often faceless, anonymous beings. Some of us think that being invisible makes us secure. Wrong. Don’t assume that if you keep you’re head down and do a good job, you’re safe, because you’re not.

Everybody falls at one time or other, sometimes through no fault of our own. But how high you bounce depends on you. Hal Gordon is a former White House speechwriter.

Be visible. Be visible within the organization. Volunteer for projects that will help you grow professionally, win you friends and allies, and add to your portfolio. Offer to write an article for the company magazine, for instance. Be visible outside the organisation as well. Look for opportunities to speak and write outside of your job. Build a network, because some day it may be your lifeline.

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

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June 2011 | Volume 06

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

15 TOP TIPS FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING BY PHILLIP KHAN-PANNI

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW

Tip 6: What’s your reason for speaking? Money? Influence? Ego? Passion? When you are clear about it you’ll be more focused. Tip 7: When you have credible answers to tips 1-6, write your Core Message (the ‘carry away’) in a single sentence. That’s the message you should drive home when you speak. Tip 8: Develop your message in 3 streams of argument or thought, e.g. Problem / Consequence / Solution.

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t seems to me that the main reason why people get anxious about speaking in public is that they are not sure what is expected of them. If you have a speech or presentation to deliver, here are 15 tips to help dispel that anxiety by making sure you are well prepared. These tips will help you feel confident that you know your stuff, and also that you know why and how it will be relevant to your audience. Tip 1: Imagine you are speaking just to me and answer this question: What do you want me to know? Tip 2: Tell me why should I care about what you want me to know. Tip 3: Why do I need to hear it from YOU? What’s your special connection with the message? Tip 4: Would you pay to hear YOU speak? If not, why not? Tip 5: Record your voice and ask yourself and some close friends if your voice is attractive. If not, make changes.

Tip 9: Decide on your call to action. What do you want people to do when you have finished speaking? Tip 10: Create an opening ‘Hook’ - something unexpected or dramatic that grabs attention right at the start. Tip 11: Write out and learn your opening and closing paragraphs. Just use prompts for the rest, to sound more natural. Tip 12: Decide on the ‘point of arrival’ or climax of your speech or presentation and build up the energy to that point. Your second ‘climax’ should be at the end. Tip 13: Practise in front of a mirror or camcorder. Watch your gestures and body language. Tip 14: When you are confident of your text, answer (aloud) the questions in Tips 1-3. Tip 15: Unless you are in a speech contest, don’t try to give a world class performance. Just be sincere and passionate. For more detailed help, go to www.pkpcommunicators.com or call 0845 165 9240.

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

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atricia Ryan Madson is a member of the drama faculty at Stanford University. She has written a book Improv Wisdom – Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up. She says you don’t need to write a script when you’re public speaking. ‘Instead of writing out your notes in precise language, try writing questions to yourself. Then, answer the question using natural speech patterns.’ Using the question method, she says that she is free to add and develop details that fit the moment. She points out that with scripted text it becomes difficult to add anything. She said that she once did classes in oral interpretation. Each class focused on a subject area, the oral interpretation of prose, poetry, the Bible and Shakespeare. Class after class the professor gave one instruction. ‘Talk to me’. ‘Talk to me with that poem’, Talk to me with that passage from Isaiah’, ‘Talk to me with that sonnet.’ It helped the students to develop a natural communicative style. ‘Speak off the cuff. Trust your mind.’

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

RONALD REAGAN AT 100

by Clark S Judge, Managing Director of White House Writers Group

Analyse the audience

Preparation

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ormer Reagan aide and speechwriter, now California congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, tells of a campaign stop involving a grade school class of blind children. After reporters had left for their bus, Reagan stayed behind and asked the teacher if the children would like to feel his face. The teacher said they would be thrilled. So for a few minutes, without publicity, the children got to “see” him in the only way they could.

eagan had numerous devices for controlling risk. These included the famous staff-prepared talking points for even trivial events and the tape on each stage floor telling him where to stand. He expected staff to think through every detail of an appearance. It was widely known that the formal White House staffing system put the president last in line to see most speech drafts. Few knew that he put himself first for reviewing the most sensitive addresses, especially ones dealing with the Soviet Union. This was true of at least one of the Soviet-specific speeches I drafted. It was true of Peter Robinson’s 1987 “Tear Down This Wall” draft.

But in addition to Reagan’s measuring the individuals who made up his audience, I first glimpsed in that Newark moment a second quality—a pervasive, almost preternatural self-discipline. As I realized later, like Eisenhower—indeed like Washington and Lincoln—Reagan had disciplined himself to turn his public face into a tool at the service of those private calibrations.

Only after the president had seen them were the texts distributed, when, for Soviet speeches in particular, furious fights often developed. With others carrying the battle, the president would remain politically untouched. But he had already set the boundaries for an acceptable outcome. In the case of “Tear Down This Wall,” the chief and deputy chief of staff, communications director, and speechwriters knew he had marked as untouchable the call for dismantling the Berlin Wall—but only they knew.

Storytelling Reagan’s storytelling was part of his public persona. In speeches, he used humour and anecdotes to make points. But in small gatherings, what might be called an economy of the story (that is, an exchange of value) was often at play. White House aides would become exasperated in meetings with outsiders as the president told tales they had sat through frequently before. They never considered the dynamics of those meetings. The president heard whatever the visitors had come to say. He absorbed their information, opinions, or requests (the value he derived from the meeting). Meanwhile, his stories left his guests feeling responded to and confided in (the value they derived). He did this without saying anything that might surprise or embarrass him if it appeared in the press, or that committed him to policies he might think better of later. Both sides gained. He risked nothing.

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

This is an extract of an article published in the the Winter 2010-Spring 2011 issue of Claremont Review of Books. Search the internet for the full version.

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

INTERVIEW Stuart Mole is a freelance speechwriter and consultant. He is a former Director-General of the Royal Commonwealth Society and a former Director of the Secretary-General’s Office in the Commonwealth Secretariat. What was the first speech you wrote for somebody else? My guess it was when I was appointed the Parliamentary Press Officer of the Liberal Party back in 1975. My first draft was for Clement Freud, then MP for the Isle of Ely. He did the jokes and I inserted the party policy. I am not sure it was the ideal way to write speeches. How do you manage the speechwriter-speaker relationship? Any tips? I aim to produce the speech the speaker thinks he or she would have written, had there been the time. That requires a personal relationship with the person – appreciating their use of language and their speech rhythms; understanding their sense of humour; and articulating clear and appealing messages on the basis of their known opinions and values. All of that suggests a continuing contact with the speaker – before, during and after the event. I remember writing for Sir Edwin Nixon when he was Chairman and CEO of IBM UK, and fortunately this thorough approach worked very well in his case. This is the ideal, though I realise that this is sometimes not practical. Who is your favourite public speaker? I was the Special Assistant to Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal when he was Commonwealth SecretaryGeneral. He is an inspirational speaker who has a special gift as an orator. He uses the English language in a rich and uninhibited way, in pursuit of great causes. It is all delivered in a compelling Caribbean

accent, with impeccable timing. I have listened to him for hours and been enthralled – even when I knew the content! What’s your most useful reference book? I admit to a weakness for the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, or similar reference books. Properly used, quotations can give substance to a text – but I use them sparingly, and only where they are wholly relevant and where they illuminate the speech. Are you good at writing jokes for speakers? I enjoy humour and it is a great way for a speaker to connect with his or her audience from the outset. I used to write speeches for Tasos Panayides, then High Commissioner for Cyprus and Doyen of the London Diplomatic Corps. He had a very slow and deliberate delivery which made his jokes excruciatingly funny – the anticipation of the punchline was almost unbearable. I am a great believer in light and shade – relaxing an audience with a joke and then providing contrast by quickly building drama and emotion. How do we persuade big organisations to invest in writers? The importance of the spoken word to the leaders of organisations, whether senior civil servants, captains of industry or diplomats, cannot be underestimated. Their speeches provide a crucial opportunity to showcase the organisation, develop important

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themes and messages and build personal profile and reputation. It is short-sighted for an organisation to invest in advertising, hospitality, public relations, websites and the rest.. and neglect the pinnacle of the organisation’s communications. It should be an integral and key part of the media strategy. It requires thought, preparation and expertise. For those who think otherwise, they should recall the devastating impact of Gerald Ratner’s infamous ‘crap’ speech. In fact, the reach of any speech – for good or ill - is even more extensive today, given YouTube and other social media. The days of ‘offthe-record and off-the-cuff’ are gone. What was it like to write the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast? I have been involved in the past with some of the Queen’s speeches and annual messages, and the process was much the same. In this case, I provided a first draft in November, in the full knowledge that the script would be pulled about by others before the Queen herself put her personal stamp on the text in December. The Duke of Edinburgh is also influential at that stage, I gather. As with any major speech draft involving a team of people, the satisfaction I derived came from seeing what proportion of my writing survived the process, over three or four weeks. Fortunately, some did. It was also gratifying to see a key phrase I had suggested being picked up and quoted more widely, including by the Foreign Secretary. Stuart Mole will be speaking at the UK Speechwriters’ Guild Conference on Friday 16 September 2011. Buy your tickets now.

The Speechwriter is edited by Brian Jenner.

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The Speechwriter June 2011  

Hints and tips for the professional speechwriter

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