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February 2015 | Volume 16

The Speechwriter
Newsletter of the UK Speechwriters' Guild incorporating

Welcome to the sixteenth The Dutch philosopher, Desiderius Erasmus, wrote a
edition of The Speechwriter very popular C16th school textbook on how to enhance
newsletter. The purpose of speechwriting skills. He encouraged students to cultivate rich,
this publication is to circulate poetic and colourful language. But he advised this was often
examples of excellent speeches to the fruit of laborious exercises - like rewriting the sentence,
members of the UK Speechwriters’
‘Your letter has delighted me very much’, in over 150 different
Guild. We do this by picking out
ways. Here is a selection of soundbites from his textbook,
openings, closings, one-liners
and quotations and other topical
De Copia.
extracts from newspapers and the
internet to identify techniques,
…that person It will serve
to whom laconic to suggest that
stimulate your imagination and
brevity in speech is whoever wishes
provide models which you can pleasing…will not to be more fluent
emulate. make use of every in speech should
argument, but only observe and collect
This newsletter appears the chief ones. from the best
quarterly and is available to authors a great
anyone who is a Standard
Everywhere number of striking
tedium should metaphors.
Member of the UK Speechwriters’
be lightened
Guild or the European by variety, Collect as
Speechwriter Network. cheerfulness and many topics as
humour. possible. Take
them partly from
We keep our classes of virtues
audience in a and vices, partly
receptive mood from those things
Contribute most effectively by that are important
suitable transitions. in human affairs,
We welcome book reviews, and that are accustomed to come
speeches and articles for the The first way to embellish up often in persuasion; and it will
magazine. Every contribution thought is to relate at length and be best to arrange these according
published gets a £10 Amazon treat in detail something that to affinity and opposition. Then
could be expressed summarily whatever you come across in
token. Please send your
and in general. And this, in fact, is any author, especially if it is very
submissions to: the same as if one should displace noteworthy, you will immediately
merchandise…rolled up in carpets, mark down in its proper place.
8 then should unroll the carpets and This method will have the effect
disclose the merchandise, exposing it of imprinting what you read more
completely to sight. deeply on your mind, as well as
accustoming you to utilising the
Speech is enriched by riches of your reading.
descriptions of places.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 2

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

BOOK REVIEWS Davies – a professor at Carleton

University’s Institute of Cognitive
Give your audience something to
do: ‘sometimes people like things
Science – offers six foundations for because they are confusing and
Reviewed by compellingness. I’ll buy four of them. hard to understand. To explain this
Alan Barker I created the concept of idea effort
First, social compellingness justification.’
theory. We tend to think that all
patterns involve social meaning, Those last two sentences typify
Riveted: The Science intention and agency; and we tend Davies’ method. Each chapter reads
of Why Jokes Make Us to believe social explanations that we
hear from others. We look for reasons,
like the contents of a large box file:
lists of examples and explanatory
Laugh, Movies Make Us not causes. We’re obsessed by status nominalisations: threat simulation
Cry, and Religion Makes and gossip. We’ve an insatiable theory, the perceptual fluency
Us Feel One With the appetite for stories. (Davies is good hypothesis, the impossibility critique
on stories, though not perhaps quite and so on. The style is part of the
Universe so good at telling them.) performance: the whacky professor,
by Jim Davies tumbling ideas onto the page,
Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, £12.99 Secondly, we tend to believe the disconcertingly switching back and
£14.44 (Amazon) things we fear or hope are true. Fear forth between subjects (‘let’s bring
Kindle edition £9.94 (Amazon) has evolutionary advantages: safer to this discussion back to...’; ‘returning
believe that the shape in the corner to computer game addictions...’; ‘let’s
is a man-eater than a heap of old get back to miracles...’).
clothes. Hope is more curious: ‘one of
the ultimate reasons we do anything At last, it all starts to unravel.
is so that we will have beliefs that In the last three chapters, Davies
make us happy.’ begins to generalise dangerously,
drifting around the human body
Thus, we prefer landscapes and clocking up the inevitable
to abstract art (we like to look at psychological biases without which
pictures of what’s good for us, no cognitive science book can be
including food, or sources of food, complete. What, after all, is the
like trees and animals); and we’re compellingness he’s discussing? Is
drawn to gambling (‘intermittent there really no difference in kind
reward reinforces behaviour even between, say, our momentary
more strongly than reliable reward’). compulsion to glance at an attractive
person, and the deep commitment
Third, ‘we love patterns and towards a belief system? (Davies has
repetition.’ In fact, we’re more likely to a problem with belief systems. Well:
believe information we understand he has a problem with religion.)
easily. It’s all down to dopamine,
‘the neurotransmitter that tags This lack of a narrative arc
perceptions as meaningful’. Cue provides another useful lesson for
some interesting thoughts on music speechwriters, especially in science

W hy should speechwriters
look at compellingness
foundation theory? Well: we want
and language. Note to speechwriters:
quotations and idioms will stick if
they are patterned simply.
or research. As we rush to keep
up, the cabinet-of-commonalities
approach ironically generates a
our speeches to compel. What do kind of attention deficit disorder.
humans find compelling? ‘Strange And fourth, we are compelled by ‘Meditation sounds relaxing,’ pants
as it may seem,’ answers Davies, incongruity. It triggers the desire to Davies as we swerve into Buddhism,
‘compelling things share many understand, and understanding gives ‘but some, this author included, find
similarities.’ Indeed, ‘the qualities that us pleasure. it more like taking your brain to the
are common to all these things fit like gym. It’s hard work.’
a key in a lock with our psychological There’s plenty of useful ideas here.
proclivities.’ Hey presto – a theory. Tell stories. Address your audience’s Maybe he should try less hard.
fears and hopes. Create simple,
Nothing as useful as a good repetitive patterns with added
theory, I say. – not too many – incongruities.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 3

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

Insider Secrets of Public a bit obliquely. How to become the

best possible version of yourself?
Speaking: ‘It isn’t you,’ they say insightfully,
Answers to the 50 ‘so much as what you are doing.’
biggest questions Practical tips on how to deliver ‘an
authentic, heartfelt message’ do
on how to deliver appear, in the all-too-brief chapter on
brilliant speeches and weddings and funerals. Focus on the
presentations task; do the research; take charge;
and say something personal.
Nadine Dereza and Ian Hawkins
Rethink Press £14.99 A speaker should be ‘passionate,
knowledgeable and confident’, and
‘only you can be responsible for
‘The Q&A format is a very strong
your knowledge and passion.’ Will
one,’ claim Nadine Dereza and Ian
aspiring speakers gain the necessary
Hawkins; ‘there is no coincidence
confidence from this book? Its
that we chose it for the format of this
racy style and nuanced advice will
book.’ ‘Real-world problems,’ they say,
undoubtedly help. But, as Dereza and
‘demand practical solutions,’ and a
Hawkins point out, nothing beats
Q&A structure allows you to ‘quickly
practice, guidance and feedback.
find an answer to the question that
(Details of their training consultancy
most closely fits your own dilemma.’ (‘being flexible, easy to reach and
are on the final page.) ‘The best way
straightforward to work with, will
of learning how to speak in public,’
The format also neatly solves stand you in good stead’).
they say, ‘ is to go out and just do it.’
the perennial challenge of how to
maintain the reader’s attention in The inevitable trade-off for all this
a book like this. Keep the chapters
brief (none here, by my reckoning,
variety is a risk of superficiality. You’ll
find ideas in abundance, but you’ll IN PRAISE OF
longer than about 2500 words, and need to join quite a lot of dots. (More COURIER
many much shorter); change the cross-referencing between chapters
subject unexpectedly (from ‘How would help, and would increase the It’s important to lay out your
do you handle obnoxious audience fun.) The chapter on storytelling scripts immaculately, to intimidate
members?’, we turn swiftly to ‘How stands out because the authors give speakers from meddling with them.
can I remember my words?’); employ themselves space to develop their What font should we use for our
the bon mot (there’s hardly a page material. speech manuscripts? Courier
in my review copy where I haven’t is apparently the most profitable
marked something useful). Interestingly, they devote typeface for direct mail. 20% more
their longest chapter to the art profitable in tests! Why should that
It all makes for a lively read, of memory. ‘Put the needs of the be? Probably because it’s easiest
especially when the text has such audience first,’ we’re told, ‘and make to read. Screenplays are written in
flair. The book feels bang up to date: your performance all about serving 12-point Courier. This is because
the authors even reference Mary their needs.’ Scripts, it seems, get in Courier is a fixed-pitch font,
Beard’s LRB lecture in February the way. The speaker should aim to meaning each character or space is
2014. Alongside the stuff you’d become a ‘good conversationalist.’ exactly the same width. Standard
expect – breathing, moving, the Maybe; sometimes. But then the screenplay format is designed so that
perils of jokes – they discuss the authors also say, quite rightly: ‘speak one page approximately equals one
logistics of presenting: dress, as if what you say makes a difference.’ minute of screen time.
hosting arrangements, technology. They even include a collection of
They include, unusually, material great speeches in their reading list. This is a useful insight for
on developing a career as a How many of those were unscripted? speechwriters, who also have to
public speaker: getting bookings, How many were conversational? be sensitive to time. Since some of
participating in panel discussions, us see ourselves as screenwriters
chairing debates. There’s even a The audience, for their part, manqués, we can get in the habit of
rather long piece on playing the ‘doesn’t want to watch a speaker who using the font in preparation for the
Edinburgh Festival. I enjoyed the doesn’t want to be watched.’ Dereza day we finally get round to penning
advice on cultivating conference and Hawkins raise the burning issue that Hollywood script.
etiquette and professionalism of authenticity and tackle it wisely, if

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 4

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

But Stephen Merchant, writer

Reviewed by Imogen Barker on The Office and one of only two
non-American writers interviewed,
strikes a chord when he speaks
about understanding the different
Poking a Dead Frog grammars of different situations. Kay
by Mike Sacks Cannon, writer and producer on 30
Penguin Books, 2014, £9.50 Rock, speaks about ‘the importance
of self-awareness’ for a writer,

M ike Sacks asserts that, as a learning ‘what role you play every
comedy writer, you ‘make a single day’ and how that changes.
career out of attempting to induce
laughter from complete strangers For my money, Amy Poehler,
with only the words or images that writer and actor on Parks and
you create’. Recreation and Saturday Night Live,
has the best advice in the book for
For ‘induce laughter’, substitute any writer who works with others
‘persuade’ or ‘influence’, and you have and whose work is going to be
the task of a speechwriter. Sacks and spoken. (She also delivered the Class
his interviewees emphasise that the Day address to Harvard University
key to comedy writing is finding your in 2011, so she evidently knows
writers of anything’. Anybody can something about speechwriting.)
own voice – arguably far easier in
tweet a joke, or post a video on
comedy than speechwriting, which
YouTube: ‘there’s no one to stop you’. ‘Read your stuff out loud’, she
has to deal in facts, usually spoken by
Are the old rules of comedy dead? says. ‘Sometimes the way it reads in
someone else.
An increase in output does not your head sounds different when
necessarily equate to an increase in someone says it.’ When working with
The comedy writer/performer
quality. others, ‘be open to changing all the
relationship has definite parallels
with the speechwriter/speaker material you think is really brilliant…
Speechwriters are in a slightly and don’t be precious’.
relationship. A comedy writer
different situation. They’re not
relies on somebody else to deliver
competing against their peers on the
their lines effectively; so does a
internet as comedy writers are. True,
speechwriter. A good performance

their speech will probably be filmed eople talk plainly as long as
can lift a bad premise, just as bad
and put online. Soundbites will be they don’t think about it. In
delivery can sink good writing.
tweeted across the world. What conversation without rehearsal or
literary theorists call ‘destabilising the preparation, they somehow manage
What does Poking a Dead Frog
text’ is now happening on a global to express themselves so clearly that
have to offer speechwriters? Comedy
scale. And indeed, speechwriters nobody asks for an explanation. How
gets an audience on your side and
surely benefit from the ability to do they do it?
can draw people together, just like a
‘reach out to others almost instantly’.
good speech. Seth Meyers, writer on
Saturday Night Live, has coined the The solution to the puzzle is easy:
But their primary audience is the they use big words, and a fast pace,
term ‘clapter’ for when a comedian is
one in the room. Their initial focus and the ordinary rules of grammar,
looking for easy laughter and ‘earnest
must be on the material and its but they give the other fellow time to
applause’ to get an audience onside
delivery, rather than the wider social understand. They pause between
and make them feel good about their
impact. The old craft is as relevant as sentences; they repeat themselves;
ever. they use filler words between the
The ‘Pure, Hard-core Advice’ big important ones; they space their
Speechwriters will recognise a
sections are probably the most useful ideas. The secret of plain talk is in-
similar temptation.
parts of this book for speechwriters, between space.
though the relentless doom and
Mike Sacks argues comedy
gloom about ‘never making it’ and The Art of Plain Talk by Rudolph
writing is now a more level playing
‘working hard for nothing’ seems Flesch
field than it’s ever been: ‘there has
more like jaded posturing than
never been a better time for writers
helpful advice from these remarkably
of comedy – or, for that matter,
successful writers.

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild


accepting the

T his month the 87th Academy

Awards take place in Los
Angeles. The star of Crocodile Dundee,
Irving G. Thalberg
Memorial Award at
the 1987 Academy
Paul Hogan, summed up the purpose Awards is very
of an Oscar speech in a succinct three moving. It’s worth looking up on
part list: ‘Be gracious, be grateful, get YouTube. He explained how he had
off.’ to leave America to extend his visa,
having been a refugee from Nazi
The ceremony offers examples of Germany. He met the American
grotesque over-acting, but also some consul in Mexicali, Mexico.
classy insights into what makes a
great speech. Her. Again?’ You know. But whatever.’ The consul—he looked a little
She milked every word for emphasis bit like Will Rogers—examined my
1) Gratitude and texture. meagre documentation. ‘Is that all
you have?’ he asked. And I said, ‘Yes.’
The most reliable source of 5) Storytelling I have to explain that, you know, I
inspiration for a speech is the had to get out of Berlin on very short
impulse to express gratitude. If a In 1987 Billy Wilder told a notice, like 20 minutes.
best man realises it’s his duty to wonderful story which falls into the
appreciate, rather than scorn the ‘This nearly didn’t happen category’ A neighbour had tipped me off
groom in his speech, he’ll be fine. The (see side panel). that two men in uniform had been
challenge of the Oscars is: how do I looking for me. I had just enough
express thanks for this award and to 6) Humour time to throw in a few things in the
the people who’ve helped me win in suitcase and get on a night train to
under 45 seconds? Roberto Benigni managed to Paris. The consul just stared at me
express joie de vivre in his acceptance and said, ‘I mean, how do you expect
2) Emotion of best Foreign Language Film in me to, with just those papers?’ And
1998. I told him, I tried to get them from
The quivering voice, the sighs Nazi Germany but they just would
and the tears may be contrived, but He fulfilled every over-the-top not respond. Of course I could get
if you want to be memorable (the Italian stereotype by flailing his arms them if I went back to Germany, then
Oscars is about business, let’s not about. He also had a good gag: I they would put me naturally on the
forget) a convincing wobble can be a would like to thank my parents. They train and ship me off to Dachau. So,
great way to communicate with one gave me the biggest gift: poverty. he just kept staring and staring at
billion people of different ages and me and I was not sure whether I was
different cultural backgrounds across He also used a very elegant getting through to him.
the world. quotation from Dante: L’amore che
muove il sole e le altre stelle - Love will So we just sat there and stared at
3) Brevity move the sun and the other stars. each other, the consul and I, in total
Love is a divinity, and sometimes if silence. Finally he asked me, ‘What
If you have the courage to be you have faith, like all the divinities, it do you do? I mean professionally?’
short, it cam be a great way to get can appear. And I said, ‘I write movies.’ And he
attention. Joe Pesci used five words said, ‘That so?’ He got up and started
‘It’s my privilege. Thank you.’ 7) Spontanaiety pacing, kind of behind me, but I felt
that he was measuring me. Then he
4) Opening Lines The Italians call it sprezzatura: came back to the desk, picked up
the art of making difficult things my passport, opened it, and took
A good first line is crucial even look simple, by concealing the effort a rubber stamp and went [thumps
in this kind of speech. In 2012 Meryl that went into them. The hosts of twice on the podium], handed me
Streep charmed the audience with a the Academy Awards are expected back the passport and he said, ‘Write
few words: ‘Oh. C’mon. Alright. Thank to be witty. Their gag writers spend some good ones.’
you so much… Whey they called my months before the event crafting
name I had this feeling I could hear hundreds of jokes which can be used That was fifty-four years ago. I’ve
half of America going: Oh no. Why? on the night. tried ever since.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 6

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild


by William Cohen

C raig R Smith, an American

speechwriter, who wrote for
Gerald Ford, George Bush snr and
business executive, Lee Iacocca,
penned a book Confessions of a

It’s a very honest memoir,

detailing his speechwriting triumphs
and disasters, but also his problems
as a closeted gay man in the
Republican Party in the late 20th

Another ‘confession’ he makes

is that he sees a close connection
between his spirituality and his
work. He mentions how it’s difficult Rabbi Shais Taub and Rabbi Abraham Twerski. Photo by Latkelarry
to talk about in respectable circles. I
found this intriguing because I have
an unusual hobby. I love watching an intriguing theory which has way, according to Chaim Milller, it’s a
rabbis on YouTube. The reason is implications for political leaders, sin to retain lofty wisdom for yourself.
you can see some of the world’s best think tanks and academics. Abram’s
communicators at work. name means ‘exalted father’ or I’m not sure how mainstream
‘exalted wisdom’. Rabbi Miller’s ideas are, but there
I was watching a British-born are plenty of educated people in the
rabbi called Chaim Miller on a video Rabbi Miller says you may have world, but not many people who can
called Torah in Ten. His subject is some inspired, exalted or fascinating explain complex ideas in a language
Jewish mysticism, but he told a story ideas, but the challenge is to everyone understands.
which described to me perfectly communicate those ideas outwards.
what a speechwriter does. Communication is represented For me the speechwriter is the ‘H’:
by the letter ‘H’, because when H the intermediary who translates lofty
He mentioned in passing that is written down in Hebrew, (and wisdom into accessible ideas.
some rabbis say it’s a sin to call in English), the character symbol
Abraham, Abram. For those of you stretches the full height and width of Another skill of the rabbis is to lift
not so familiar with their Bible, the interstice. the spirit and tell stories that help to
Abraham was the first patriarch. build mental resilience.
It’s the widest, highest letter
God made a covenant with him to and it represents the fleshing out, A week before my first child was
make his descendants a great people. the expanding, the clarifying, the about to be born, I was watching a
The problem was that he didn’t have detailing, the expounding of an idea talk by Rabbi Abraham Twerski on
any children with his wife Sarai. Years until it becomes understandable to the meaning of suffering. He’s also a
later, God speaks to Abram and tells the audience. psychiatrist. He’s very keen on the 12-
him that he he will change his name. step programme which is part of the
Abram, the man of ‘lofty wisdom’, Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy.
In Genesis Chapter 17, verse 5, gained an ‘H’. When his name
it says, ‘No longer shall your name changed, Abraham acquired the Twerski described a time he felt
be Abram, but your name shall be gift of communication, so he could miserable. Two people, who were
Abraham.’ God adds the Hebrew spread his ideas of monotheism and a part of his 12-step group, came
letter ‘Hey’, which for us is an ‘H’ to spirituality to the world. round to see him. They asked how he
Abram’s name. was. He’d made a pledge not to lie
If you keep calling him Abram, to anyone on the programme, so he
Why is that? Chaim Miller has you commit a sin. And in the same told them he was miserable.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 7

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

They said he had to go to an AA she’d be a nervous wreck. She’d be It’s a humorous way to define
meeting. They took him to a meeting. cursing, but she was perfectly calm, neurosis as an attempt to change
He listened to a man who said he’d because she knew the Jets were things that you can’t change. Instead
been sober for four years. But he’d going to win. of using energy on the things you
lost his job, he’d fallen behind on his really do need to be spending energy
mortgage payments, his wife had And she said that ever since she’s on, you waste time complaining
divorced him and took custody of the been a member of AA, she knows that 2 + 2 = 4. He goes on to quote a
kids, and then the finance company that sometimes she’s 20 points Jewish text which reveals how much
took his car. behind at half time, but she always of life you have influence over.
knows she’s going to win.
The man insisted: ‘God hasn’t Everything’s in the hands of heaven,
brought me all this way only to I showed this sermon to my wife a except for one’s awe of heaven.
let me down now.’ Twerski was few days before our child was due.
impressed by the man’s resilience. That suggests that quite a lot of
Sure enough, when my wife things that happen to us are beyond
He used this story to set up a had been in home labour for about our control. What is in our control?
second story. He was miserable in nine hours, the midwife called for Our reaction to reality. I’m in control
Manhattan, so he decided to go to an an ambulance. I had a sense that, of how I feel about my life. Having
AA meeting there. A woman spoke of like the Jets, we were in a difficult a fight with the facts of life. That’s
how she’d got into drugs, her life had situation. Thinking about that story where the suffering of the world
gone awry and she’d got into debt, helped me feel calmer. I could comes from - fighting with reality.
but she’d turned herself around. manage my anxiety.
Twerski said that he’d heard that The insight is a useful one for
story hundreds of times before. The third rabbi who I watch is leaders. There is such a thing as
Shais Taub. He’s also an expert in reality, and it’s worth defining. How
But then she said mentioned she addiction. many policies, programmes and
was a passionate fan of the New York speeches are made in defiance of the
Jets: an American football team. She He has a repertoire of Borscht fact that 2+2 = 4?
was out of town and she couldn’t Belt routines, literary references (he
watch the match. She never missed quotes Hamlet) and one liners. Like Craig R Smith, you might
a match. She asked a friend to record be wary of mentioning where you
it on her VCR. And when she went His father was a psychologist, and get your ideas from in respectable
round to pick it up, the friend said: ‘By one day he sat him down and told company, but speechwriters can
the way the Jets won’. him a joke. learn a lot from rabbis. You can enjoy
Shais Taub’s laconic delivery on
The woman went home and What is the difference between YouTube.
started watching the video. The Jets psychosis and neurosis?
were playing really badly. They were Psychosis is when you think 2 + 2 = 5
getting mauled. They were 20 points Neurosis is when you think 2 + 2 = 4
down at half time. She said normally and you can’t stand it.


D r Craig R Smith’s memoir

Confessions of a Speechwriter
is an inspiring account of how a
Republican party. He
gives the inside track on
what it was like to work
The book is a
mixture of American
history, speechwriting
speechwriting career can lead in for characters like Lee tips and political
several directions. Craig Smith Iacocca, Gerald Ford, insight. It also analyses
had a peripatetic working life as George Bush (snr) and the frustrations of
a speechwriter, academic and Senator Bob Packwood. working in academia.
administrator. He has some good It’s dry in places, but it
yarns about the murky world of offers hope and ideas to anyone who
The ‘confession’ element refers Washington politics, and he rubbed wants to specialise in speechwriting,
to how he lived as a closet gay man shoulders with some famous people and live a prosperous and interesting
for many years working for the like Michael Douglas. life.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 8

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild


by Hal Gordon

A sa

speechwriter, when
I’m going to reprint the
conclusion of the speech in its
entirety so it can be studied as a
‘Always there echoes and re-echoes:
Duty, Honor, Country.

you bring a speech model. First, note the subtle way ‘Today marks my final roll call
to a close, you want in which Gen. MacArthur lets the with you, but I want you to know that
to do two things. audience know he is drawing to a when I cross the river my last conscious
First, you want to close. thoughts will be of The Corps, and The
signal your audience that the speaker Corps, and The Corps.
is coming to the end, so that they will Second, once he signals that he’s
be primed and ready to applaud. But coming to the end, note how with ‘I bid you farewell.’
you don’t want to do that by having each successive line he ratchets up
the speaker say something as trite as the emotional level another notch, Granted that this was a unique,
‘In conclusion...’ until the tension is wound so tight and even historic occasion, and that
that when he concludes the audience Gen. MacArthur was a brilliant orator.
Second, you don’t want the virtually has to applaud to relieve But there are lessons here that can be
audience to applaud because they their pent-up feelings. applied to other occasions and less
feel they have to—or worse, because illustrious speakers.
they feel sorry for the speaker. You Here is Gen MacArthur:
want them to applaud because they First, we can be subtle in the
mean it. To do that, you have to give ‘The shadows are lengthening way we signal the audience that the
them a reason to applaud. for me. The twilight is here. My days speaker is coming to an end. Second,
of old have vanished, tone and tint. we can build suspense as the speaker
One of the best examples I know They have gone glimmering through works to his conclusion. And third
of how to end a speech is Gen. the dreams of things that were. Their and most important, we can give the
Douglas MacArthur’s ‘Duty, Honor, memory is one of wondrous beauty, audience a reason to applaud at the
Country’ address that he gave at West watered by tears, and coaxed and end.
Point in 1962. caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I
listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for Hal Gordon wrote speeches for
Gen. MacArthur was then 82 the witching melody of faint bugles the Reagan White House, Gen. Colin
years old. He knew, and his audience blowing reveille, of far drums beating Powell, and a raft of corporate CEOS.
knew, that this would probably be his the long roll. In my dreams I hear He currently freelances in Houston,
last address to the West Point cadet again the crash of guns, the rattle of Texas. He blogs for
corps. So, at the end of his speech, he musketry, the strange, mournful mutter and can be
milked the drama of the occasion for of the battlefield. reached through his web site:
all it was worth.
‘But in the evening of my memory,
always I come back to West Point.


by Alastair Crompton, The Craft of Copywriting

…there are about 17 subjects that make people read. These 17 subjects get attention:
And you will probably find ten of them every day in any
Animals, Babies, Cars, Disasters, Entertainment,
popular newspaper. I hold the view that if you take any
Famous Personalities, Fashion, Food, Fortune-telling,
popular paper for one year, you will have read everything
Jokes (cartoons) Money (how to make it), Royalty, Scandal
it’s ever going to print. From year two, only the people, the
(gossip columns), Sex, Sports, Wars, Weddings.
places, the numbers of the dead and wounded change.
Certainly, I believe if all the world’s news dried up, most of The copywriter can use most of these subjects to help
our press wouldn’t notice the difference. get over his message.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 9

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild


From Resonanz Agentur, a German presentation consultancy

protocol. The speaker frequently is This again has to do with the

determined by hierarchy, instead of stiff ceremonial approach noted in
focusing on bringing ‘the big idea’ the previous answer. However my
to life. This then leads to situations feeling is that this is changing slowly
where most attention is given to but surely with the informality the
making the speaker look good, Internet brings and a more relaxed
instead of focusing on the audience. attitude of the younger generation.
At least, I hope so.
The second thing I noticed is that
speechwriters tend to be journalists. I see from your website you have
I never really understood that. While a CIC certificate in professional
journalists are trained to relay facts in speechwriting – what’s that?
an impartial and objective manner,
speechwriting to me is the art of In Germany, in order to paint walls
Can you tell us about the culture weaving an emotional story that inside a house or run a barbershop,
of speechwriting in Germany? touches the hearts of those who you need a professional certificate.
listen. Not so with speechwriting. As is the
Whoa, tricky one! I’ll offer an case in most countries there is no
opinion. First off, let me try to When I attended the conference formal education for speechwriters
illustrate my views by means of two of the German Speechwriters’ in Germany. The one universally
conversations I had in the past. The Guild, I got the sense that the accepted certificate you can get is
first was with a CEO-friend of mine. Germans aren’t as much in awe of the one from the CIC, ie the Chamber
When I told him I wanted to become the Americans speaking style as the of Industry and Commerce.
a speechwriter, he said: ‘How can British, Dutch and Danish. Is that a
your clients be sure you’ll make them fair comment? You write in English and in
look good?’. German – for what is there the most
Short answer: yes (one caveat: demand in your agency?
Second example: someone asked I have no experience with Danish
me what I was doing for work. When I speakers). Funnily enough, for English. And
said ‘speechwriting’ she was pleased: not only from German clients who
‘Oh, I work in journalism myself!’ Longer answer, and somewhat need help with their English, but
related to my previous answer: I feel from English native speakers as well.
What did I learn from these that generally the two speaking
conversations? First of all there styles are rather different. I have Is it fair to say that giving
is no public speaking tradition in spent more than ten years living speeches is different from giving
Germany comparable to that in and working in the Americas. So my presentations?
the Anglo-Saxon world. People of personal view is that there is a strong
my generation who went through cultural element at work here. Actually, I do not think there is all
University had no Toastmaster Clubs that much difference. A presentation
or the such. Speaking in front of Humour, especially of the slightly and a speech should have the same
groups was not on the curriculum or self-depreciating, ironic kind is rarely purpose if they are worth being
practised otherwise. Public speaking found in German speeches. Evoking given: to convey an important idea to
is just less ubiquitous, I guess. Still emotions through story likewise the audience and to move them with
many weddings see no more than often is considered somewhat the message. While one apparent
the father of the bride stepping up, frivolous, especially regarding difference between presentation and
sometimes not even that. business or other ‘serious’ matters. speech is that the former typically
Thus, the claim ‘to make a difference’, uses images on slides, a great speech
Perhaps as a consequence of this or even to ‘change the world’ - equally uses images, although
‘remoteness’ of public speaking, it almost routinely voiced in American evoked mentally. Just think of Peggy
is to this day often a stiff affair. Too speeches - often gets ridiculed in Noonan’s ‘touching the face of God’
much room is given to ceremony and Germany as ‘hollywoodesque’ drama. in Reagan’s address to the nation
after the Challenger disaster.

The Speechwriter February 2015 | Volume 16 10

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

Regardless of whether you give a Guild, ‘… and that way down deep Can you give us any tips on how
speech or a presentation, you should in the heart of life’s extraordinary to flatter a German audience?
try to make sure that your delivery complexity is ... extraordinary
follows a fil rouge and has a story simplicity.’ (Peggy Noonan, On ‘Don’t mention the war!’ I’m
arc to bind it all together. With or Speaking Well). just kidding. I cannot answer that
without the visualisation on slides, because I do not know what the
whiteboards, or whatever: take your What font do you use for your stereotypical ‘German audience’ is.
audience on a journey they will scripts? Sorry.
That’s a trade secret. No, seriously, The European Speechwriter
Incidentally, I believe that Peggy I have no clear answer for this. I guess Network Autumn conference will
Noonan would sympathise when it kind of depends on what mood I take place in Berlin, Germany in
it comes to crafting scripts with am in or on the topic I write about. October 2015
the Zen-style simplicity advocated
by Garr Reynolds for slide design. What’s your favourite reference
The Speechwriter is edited by Brian
If I may quote from the ‘Rhetorical book?
Toolkit’ from the UK Speechwriter’s The internet.

Design by


CONFERENCE 15-17 April 2015 - Westminster College, Cambridge
Hal Gordon, former speechwriter to US Secretary of
State, Colin Powell, will be speaking about the man who
taught Churchill to speak.
Alexander von Reumont from the German
Speechwriters’ Guild will be speaking about charisma.

T he tenth European Speechwriter Network

conference in conjunction with the UK
Speechwriters’ Guild will be taking place at Westminster
Jesper Langergaard from the Danish Ministry of
Science will be speaking about humour.
College, Cambridge from April 15-17 2015 - in the middle Lucia Hodgson from the UK Department of Education
of the UK General Election campaign. will tell us about how Whitehall speechwriters work.
Our conferences offer a unique way to understand the Hanneke Kulik from the Dutch Ministry of Finance will
challenges of writing speeches by spending three days be speaking about speechwriters’ ethics.
in the company of some of the top speechwriters in the
UK Business Communicator of the Year and
pensions guru, Steve Bee, will be speaking on visual
Pre-conference training will take place on the communication.
Kate Bruce from St John’s College, Durham, will be
Erich Schnure, who wrote for Al Gore, will be giving some insights on the skill of preaching.
delivering a workshop on ‘Wisdom from the White House’.
The breakout sessions will include:
Washington-based communications consultant, Denise
Graveline, will be delivering a workshop on how to write Roger Lakin from BP on corporate speechwriting.
‘TED-quality talk’. Martin Shovel and Martha Leyton from Writing for non-native speakers and multilingual
CreativityWorks in Brighton will be coaching delegates in audiences with Sarah Lynch from the European Union.
Roger Evans from the Scottish Parliament will speak on
At the main conference the speakers will include: How do we promote a positive culture for speechwriting.
The chief speechwriter at Disney in Florida, Tom Purchase a ticket by going to:
Morrisey, who will be talking about The Staying Power of