The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write It, How to Deliver It

The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write It, How to Deliver It

The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write It, How to Deliver It

The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write It, How to Deliver It


"Splashy slides, confident body language, and a lot of eye contact are fine and well. But if a speech is rambling, illogical, or just plain boring, the impact will be lost. Now everyone can learn to give powerful, on-target speeches that capture an audience's attention and drive home a message. The key is not just in the delivery techniques, but in tapping into the power of language.

Prepared by an award-winning writer, this authoritative speech-writing guide covers every essential element of a great speech, including outlining and organizing, beginning with a bang, making use of action verbs and vivid nouns, and handling questions from the audience. Plus, the book includes excerpts from some of history's most memorable speeches--eloquent words to contemplate and emulate."


Many years ago, when I was laboring in obscurity as employee-newsletter editor for a small textile company, my boss asked me to prepare brief remarks for the president of the company to deliver at a gathering of longtime employees. I accepted the challenge with considerable trepidation. the situation was not ideal even for an experienced speech writer, certainly not for me, whose experience was absolute zero. the deadline was tight and I would not be given the opportunity to talk with the president to find out what he wanted to say. Guidance from my boss was minimal. It was left to me to decide what the president would say as well as how he would say it. Nelivered the speech exactly as I had written it. Even more to my amazement, he sounded good. As I listened to him speak, I was conscious of every pause, every emphasis, every nuance that I had tried so hard to put into the remarks. I had made no effort to “sound” like the man. in truth, I couldn’t have done so if I had tried, for I had met him only briefly and had never heard him make a speech. What I wrote for him was what I thought he ought to say and how I thought he ought to say it. That, I learned much, much later, is the speech writer’s first duty.

The whole exercise was enormously satisfying. in later years, I was to experience the same satisfaction, the feeling that I had at least some influence on the direction of the company for which I was writing. I enjoyed hearing my words delivered by a good speaker.

After a brief stint as publications manager for the Coca-Cola Company, I joined the international public relations agency of Manning, Selvage & Lee, and over a quarter of a century with that firm I honed my skill as a speech writer. This book is a compilation of what I learned about writing speeches and, in the process, about delivering them, because writing and delivery are inseparable. So the book is intended both for people who write speeches for others and for . . .

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