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February 2013 | Volume 11

The Speechwriter
Newsletter of the UK Speechwriters' Guild incorporating

MASTERCLASS by Garr Reynolds

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 P resentation guru, Garr
Reynolds, uses analogies
with Japanese aesthetics and Zen
pretence or artificiality. It’s easy to
pack information onto slides but
Reynolds says, ‘Restraint is a beautiful
philosophy to give clarity to his thing but…hard.’
principles of creating effective slides
This newsletter appears
and talks. His mantra is: restraint Shibumi
quarterly and is available to in preparation, simplicity in design
anyone who is a Standard and naturalness in delivery. He This means simple, subtle
Member of the UK Speechwriters’ describes how to use his techniques and unobtrusive beauty. Guy
Guild or the European in his books Presentation Zen and Kawasaki says in the introduction
Presentation Zen Design. to Presentation Zen we want: short,
Speechwriter Network.
simple, legible, engaging.
Dakara Nani?
So what? At every stage in the
presentation, put your feet in the The acceptance of transience
shoes of the audience and ask what and imperfection. Wabi-Sabi says:
Contribute the point is you’re making, and why nothing lasts, nothing is finished
Every quarter we award it matters. and nothing is perfect. Wabi means
poverty or lacking material wealth,
the Demosthenes Pebble (£25
Kanso but at the same time feeling freed
Amazon token) for an outstanding from worldly things.
speech. Please send your Reynolds quotes the architect Dr
speeches to: Koichi Kawana, ‘Simplicity means the Hara Hachi Bu
achievement of the maximum effect
with the minimum of means.’ That Eat only till 80% full. A Japanese
means elimination of the ornate, the proverb says: “eight parts of a full
florid and the over-embellished. stomach sustain the man; the other
two sustain the doctor”.
As applied to presentations, it
Shizen has about it a sense means leave them wanting more.
of artlessness and an absence of

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

BOOK REVIEWS speakers can achieve with their

audiences’. At the base of the
the final chapters, outlining the
actual job spec of a professional
staircase is ‘Inform’; we progress speechwriter: not merely a
Alan Barker reviews through ‘Create understanding’. wordsmith, but counsellor, coach,
two essential books ‘Reinforce values’ and ‘Change fashion consultant and event
for speechwriters. attitudes’ to the ultimate purpose: manager. A primer this may be, but
He will be running ‘Elicit action’. there’s enough real wisdom here to
a workshop at the make it a worthwhile read for the
UK Speechwriters’ Guild spring Dean hangs a good deal of his seasoned speechwriter as much as
conference in London. material on this hierarchy, although for the rookie.
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.

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.

Dean is good, also, on stories. He

10 Steps to Writing a justifies their use wisely and with
Vital Speech ample references, and it’s typical
by Fletcher Dean of the book that we’re suddenly
Vital Speeches of the Day, 2011 presented with a nugget of real
wisdom: don’t put stories at the end Winning Arguments
F letcher Dean introduces his
book as “a primer on how to
write a speech”. And, as a primer, it
of a speech, just when the audience
is wanting you to wind up.
by Jay Heinrichs
Penguin, 2011
works extremely well. Dean knows The book’s packed with quotes,
the worlds of both political and
corporate speechwriting. He takes a
none more welcome than Isocrates’
famous dictum that “in all our actions J ay Heinrichs is my kind of
intellectual. After 26 years in
publishing, he headed for the wilds
pragmatic view of the speechwriter’s as well as our thoughts speech is our
job. He’s not afraid to tackle the fuzzy guide”. And Dean uses real speeches of New Hampshire and devoted him-
areas: the relationship between script to good effect (though I could have self to writing. He resolutely avoids
and notes; the fraught question of done with a little less of MacArthur’s academia; in a scathing article, he
Powerpoint; and most importantly, 1962 prolonged West Point oration). castigates Harvard for systematically
the relationship between downgrading rhetoric as a subject of
scriptwriters and their principals. He even manages to offer some serious study over the last 200 years.
new ideas on Powerpoint. I shall be
Dean’s first command is to know checking out the Takahashi, Lessig, According to his Businessweek
the audience. What, above all, do Monta and Kawasaki methods profile, he starts every day at 4.30
you want them to do after listening of slide design; and I like Dean’s with a strenuous workout and up-
to the speech? Although the early suggestion to place the lectern to the dates his websites before kissing his
chapters are somewhat checklist- left of the screen because audiences wife goodbye at 6.30 and walking or
heavy, Dean’s take is refreshing. At read from left to right. skiing to work in his log cabin office.
the heart of his approach is what he He’s regularly hired by global corpo-
calls the Communication Hierarchy: Nowhere is Dean’s good sense rations and sells ‘Talk Me Into It’ dog
five ‘communication possibilities displayed more humanely than in t-shirts on his ‘junk site’ for $18.99.

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

You do have to get through the

lifestyle. And there is a fair amount
the anecdotery. (I trust he would
approve my anthimeria.)
of it in Winning Arguments. Persist,
however, and you discover a serious, Above all, he understands the
knowledgeable, practical thinker. provisional nature of rhetorical
argument: its aim is always to find
The new title (the original title agreement about what can never be
was Thank You for Arguing) is a tad proved, which puts it at the heart of
misleading. Heinrich’s central tenet any healthy democratic polity.
is that argument isn’t about scoring
points but about seduction: making Heinrich’s purpose in all this is to
the other person desire what you evangelise for rhetoric as a civilising
desire. “You fight to win,” he writes; discipline. “Our tribal mindset,” he
“you argue to achieve agreement.” writes, “has destroyed what little faith A regular column giving extracts
His book is a guide to arguing as a we had in deliberative debate.” (He’s of unintelligible speeches delivered by
consensual act. (Heinrichs is really referring to the US, of course, but key public figures - please send in your
good on consensus.) the picture is all too recognisable examples.
in Europe.) “Even as individuals, we
This is a rhetoric textbook
for people who might not read
think so little of argument that we
outsource it.” I would like to talk to you about
economic modelling and
policy analysis with a particular
textbooks. Everything’s here,
presented with flair and – somewhat Remove the seductive power reference to limitations of analysis
relentless – humour. Heinrichs takes of rhetoric, and conflict escalates based round the concept of a
all the elements of the dark art and into violence. “Incivility smoulders representative agent. I will do this by
illuminates them with vivid examples all around us”; increased levels focusing on models which represent
and catchy language. of invective betray “a collapse of the economy as a collection of
faith in persuasion and consensus.” individual households in different
It’s quite an achievement. Take “It’s time,” he concludes, “to revive circumstances and their use to
the genera causarum. These are the the founders’ original republican address important policy questions
three branches of classical rhetoric: experiment and create a new corps
forensic (the rhetoric of the court of rhetorically-educated citizens.” Even if they do not provide all the
room); epideictic (eulogies and Winning Arguments is a powerful answers to the questions we might
suchlike); and deliberative (rhetoric tool in that experiment; and if his wish to ask, they have the prospect
of the political assembly). Heinrichs project benefits from the sale of ‘Audi of being able to help policy-makers
drags this recalcitrant material alteram partem’ wall clocks ($11.99), I come to informed decisions and
kicking and screaming into the real for one am not complaining. understand the pressures that they
world. What’s the issue?, he asks. All face.
issues boil down to three: blame
(that’s judicial), values (epideictic) POST-ITS I would like to describe the
and choice (deliberative). Each has way in which such models can be
its own tense: blame uses the past, used to address a heterogeneous
values the present and choice the
future. His advice? “If you find an
argument spinning out of control, try
M y essential piece
of equipment
when I wrote speeches
range of topics: the effects of credit
constraints and fears about credit
availability, tax structure, social
switching the tense.” And lo! Fusty for Tony Blair was security and pension arrangements,
rhetorical theory becomes instantly a Post-it Note. Ted and influences on the take-up of
applicable. Sorensen, JFK’s writer, once told me education by mature students.
that if you can’t get the basic point
This is not dumbing down. For all on to a Post-It Note, then you don’t From a speech Household
his self-deprecating facetiousness, know what it is. And if you don’t behaviour and policy analysis – by
Heinrich clearly knows his stuff and know what the basic point is, then it’s Martin Weale, External Member
steadfastly resists the simplistic. not your words that are blocked, it’s of the Monetary Policy Committee
His book handsomely repays re- your brain. (MPC), Bank of England, delivered
reading, with plenty of explicatory at the New Zealand Economists’
Philip Collins, The Times, 21/12/2012. Network 2nd Annual Conference,
margin notes, pointers to aid further
study, and summaries revealing 2012.
the nuggets of wisdom beneath

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

TRENDS, TECHNIQUES AND TIPS These days it’s not enough to write
clever speeches, you need to keep
current with the latest in multimedia
by Ian Griffin, know a little bit about everything the technology.
speechwriter company does, and who to talk to
and blogger at when I need details. But lack of detail Key Lesson: Digital media expands
Professionally is rarely an issue. Time and again, the boundaries of executive
Speaking. I’ve asked SMEs for the background communications.
information needed for five minutes
1: CEOs need a confident confidant of a speech only to be given enough 6: Open up the backchannel
Sitting in meetings at major Silicon data for a two-day seminar. My job The audience is no longer silent.
Valley companies such as Sun is to take the complexity out–to find They might look like they are sitting
Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and a way to communicate the message quietly, but a raging debate on what
Cisco, I’m often the only person in without putting the audience to Cliff Atkinson called The Backchannel
the room without a few thousand sleep. can occur within and beyond the
people reporting to them or a multi- confines of the presentation venue.
billion dollar target to meet. As the Key Lesson: Learn to simplify. Only
speechwriter, I’m the one person include what is necessary to convey I’m amazed at the resistance some
in the room the CEO can turn to what is essential. As Einstein said speakers have to this. My experience
without an agenda of my own to “Everything should be made as simple curating Twitter hashtags for specific
advance. A CEO once told me “Ian, as possible, but not simpler.” events shows that there’s a rapidly
it’s lonely at the top. I’ve seen every emerging opportunity to magnify
scam that managers can pull to cover 4: Tell compelling stories the impact of a speech and increase
their rear ends. I need someone like People may not remember what the reach beyond the walls of the
you who can tell it like it is.” you did or said, but they will always auditorium.
remember how you made them
Key Lesson: Speechwriters with the feel. Audiences forget facts, but they Key Lesson: Make sure your
confidence to speak up become the remember stories. Once you get executive has a Twitter account and
trusted advisor of a senior executive. past the jargon, the corporate world use it for shameless self-promotion
is an endless source of fascinating and to stimulate a lively debate
2: Be an impartial observer stories. I’ve found the best source of before, during and after each
I was once brought in to edit an great stories for speeches come from presentation they make.
Annual Report for a European client informal chats when you are sitting
with four separate divisions. My down over coffee or, as I did one 7: Learn to ask the right questions
role was to resolve the different memorable afternoon, sharing a beer Our role is to ask what headline the
viewpoints of each group. The VP of and pizza with the CEO in Boston’s CEO wants the speech to produce, to
Communications needed an outside North End. We talked about our find out the audience’s hot buttons,
consultant with the independence time there as students. He shared a and to uncover the unique point of
required to be able to write a story about the lessons he’d learned view the speaker brings to the issue.
cohesive document. Executive outside the Harvard classroom that I
communications professionals are in used in a future speech. If there’s one lesson I’ve taken away
a unique position to be an impartial from the work I’ve done for clients,
observer in large organisations Key Lesson: Always listen for stories it’s to always be ready to ask “Why is
with multiple departments and executives tell about their childhood, that?” when they suggest points they
competing interests. family life, hobbies, early career and want to make in a speech. When they
more. give an answer, have the courage
Key Lesson: Take the initiative and to ask the same question again. It’s
tell the truth, no matter what certain 5: Embrace multimedia often only after they answer for the
executives want to hear. But don’t The one-hour keynote is an third time that the core of the speech
take sides within a company. We endangered species. Conference is revealed.
need to keep lines of communication organisers know audiences have
open to all parties. short attention spans. Given Key Lesson: Don’t hurry to get
travel budget restrictions, many to a final draft. Be professional and
3: Take complexity out organisations are turning to virtual respect deadlines, but keep asking
A speechwriter is a jack-of-all-trades, meetings. Executives now need to questions until you reach an answer
master of none. But that’s our hidden feel comfortable on camera as well as that will make the audience sit up
value to a company. It’s my job to on the podium. and take notice.

The Speechwriter February 2013 | Volume 11 5

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

THE EU WINS THE NOBEL PRIZE I can see many other stirring
images before me. Leaders of six
States assembled to open a new

Y our Majesties, Your Royal

Highnesses, Heads of State
and Government, Members of
As a child born in Belgium just
after the war, I heard the stories
first-hand. My grandmother spoke
future, in Rome, città eterna. Willy
Brandt kneeling down in Warsaw. The
dockers of Gdansk, at the gates of
the Norwegian Nobel Committee, about the Great War. In 1940, my their shipyard. Mitterrand and Kohl
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. father, then seventeen, had to dig his hand in hand. Two million people
own grave. He got away; otherwise I linking Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius
It is with humility and gratitude would not be here today. in a human chain, in 1989. These
that we stand here together, to moments healed Europe.
receive this award on behalf of the So what a bold bet it was, for
European Union. Europe’s Founders, to say, yes, we But symbolic gestures alone
can break this endless cycle of cannot cement peace. This is where
At a time of uncertainty, this day violence, we can stop the logic of the European Union’s “secret weapon”
reminds people across Europe and vengeance, we can build a brighter comes into play: an unrivalled way of
the world of the Union’s fundamental future, together. What power of the binding our interests so tightly that
purpose: to further the fraternity imagination. war becomes materially impossible.
between European nations, now and Through constant negotiations, on
in the future. Of course, peace might have ever more topics, between ever more
come to Europe without the Union. countries.
It is our work today. It has been Maybe. We will never know. But it
the work of generations before us. would never have been of the same It’s the golden rule of Jean
And it will be the work of generations quality. A lasting peace, not a frosty Monnet: “Mieux vaut se disputer
after us. cease-fire. To me, what makes it so autour d’une table que sur un champ
special, is reconciliation. de bataille.” (“Better fight around a
Here in Oslo, I want to pay table than on a battle-field.”) If I had
homage to all the Europeans who In politics as in life, reconciliation to explain it to Alfred Nobel, I would
dreamt of a continent at peace with is the most difficult thing. It goes say: not just a peace congress, a
itself, and to all those who day by day beyond forgiving and forgetting, or perpetual peace congress!
make this dream a reality. This award simply turning the page.
belongs to them. Admittedly, some aspects can be
To think of what France and puzzling, and not only to outsiders.
War is as old as Europe. Our Germany had gone through, and Ministers from landlocked countries
continent bears the scars of spears then take this step. Signing a Treaty passionately discussing fish-
and swords, canons and guns, of Friendship. Each time I hear these quota. Europarlementarians from
trenches and tanks, and more. words – Freundschaft, Amitié –, I am Scandinavia debating the price of
moved. They are private words, not olive oil. The Union has perfected the
The tragedy of it all resonates in for treaties between nations. art of compromise.
the words of Herodotus, 25 centuries
ago: “In peace, sons bury their But the will to not let history No drama of victory or defeat,
fathers. In war, fathers bury their repeat itself, to do something but ensuring all countries emerge
sons.” radically new, was so strong that new victorious from talks. For this, boring
words had to be found. For people politics is only a small price to pay.
Yet, after two terrible wars Europe was a promise, Europe It worked. Peace is now self-evident.
engulfed the continent and the equalled hope. War has become inconceivable.
world with it, finally lasting peace Yet ‘inconceivable’ does not mean
came to Europe. When Konrad Adenauer came to ‘impossible’.
Paris to conclude the Coal and Steel
In those grey days, its cities Treaty, in 1951, one evening he found And that is why we are gathered
were in ruins, the hearts of many a gift waiting at his hotel. It was a here today. Europe must keep its
still simmering with mourning and war medal, une Croix de Guerre, that promise of peace. I believe this is still
resentment. How difficult it then had belonged to a French soldier. His our Union’s ultimate purpose. But
seemed, as Winston Churchill said, daughter, a young student, had left Europe can no longer rely on this
“to regain the simple joys and hopes it with a little note for the Chancellor, promise alone to inspire citizens.
that make life worth living”. as a gesture of reconciliation and

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

In a way, it’s a good thing; war- being assessed today is “whether that RORY SUTHERLAND
time memories are fading. Even Union, or any Union so conceived and
if not yet everywhere. Soviet rule so dedicated, can long endure”. IS BUSINESS
over Eastern Europe ended just two
We answer with our deeds,
decades ago. Horrendous massacres
took place in the Balkans shortly confident we will succeed. We are THE YEAR 2013
after. The children born at the time working very hard to overcome

of Srebrenica will only turn eighteen the difficulties, to restore growth ory Sutherland, Vice Chairman
next year. But they already have little and jobs. There is of course sheer of Ogilvy, the advertising
brothers and sisters born after that necessity. But there is more that agency, is the UK Speechwriters’
war: the first real post-war generation guides us: the will to remain masters Guild Business Communicator of the
of Europe. This must remain so. of our own destiny, a sense of Year 2013.
togetherness, and in a way speaking
So, where there was war, there is to us from the centuries, the idea of
now peace. But another historic task Europa itself.
now lies ahead of us: keeping peace
where there is peace. The presence of so many
European leaders here today
After all, history is not a novel, underlines our common conviction:
a book we can close after a Happy that we will come out of this
Ending: we remain fully responsible together, and stronger. Strong
for what is yet to come. enough in the world to defend our
interests and promote our values. We
This couldn’t be more clear than it all work to leave a better Europe for
is today, when we are hit by the worst the children of today and those of
economic crisis in two generations, tomorrow. So that, later, others might
causing great hardship among our turn and judge: that generation, ours,
people, and putting the political preserved the promise of Europe.
bonds of our Union to the test.
Today’s youth is already living in a
Parents struggling to make ends new world. For them Europe is a daily The award is made to the most
meet, workers recently laid off, reality. Not the constraint of being outstanding public speaker in
students who fear that, however hard in the same boat. No, the richness business over the past 12 months.
they try, they won’t get that first job: of being able to freely share, travel Last year’s winner was Gillian Tett, the
when they think about Europe, peace and exchange. To share and shape a financial journalist, the year before
is not the first thing that comes to continent, experiences, a future. that it was Geoff Burch, the author
mind… and motivational speaker. In 2009
Our continent, risen from the the winner was Sir Martin Broughton,
When prosperity and ashes after 1945 and united in 1989, Chairman of British Airways.
employment, the bedrock of our has a great capacity to reinvent The citation from the judges
societies, appear threatened, it is itself. It is to the next generations said: “Mr Sutherland‘s good
natural to see a hardening of hearts, to take this common adventure example (which can be viewed
the narrowing of interests, even further. I hope they will seize this on many YouTube clips) illustrates
the return of long-forgotten fault- responsibility with pride. And that how wasteful it is to try to engage
lines and stereotypes. For some, not they will be able to say, as we here audiences with Excel spreadsheets
only joint decisions, but the very today: Ich bin ein Europäer. Je suis and complex PowerPoint slides. He
fact of deciding jointly, may come fier d’être européen. I am proud to be spreads optimism with insights like,
into doubt. And while we must European. ‘recession is the mother of invention’
keep a sense of proportion – even and ‘human understanding is the
such tensions don’t take us back to “From war to peace: a European future of business and Government’.
the darkness of the past –, the test tale”, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture These are the kind of sentiments
Europe is currently facing is real. on behalf of the European Union, that entertain audiences. Business
Herman Van Rompuy, President leaders like Mr Sutherland, who can
If I can borrow the words of of the European Council, Oslo, 10 inspire audiences to try new things,
Abraham Lincoln at the time of December 2012. will ultimately lead the way out of
another continental test, what is

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

UK SPEECHWRITERS’ GUILD LAUNCHES Luuk van Middelaar, speechwriter to

Herman van Rompuy, was recently
EUROPEAN SPEECHWRITER NETWORK featured preparing a speech in a
YouTube video produced by the
European Council.”

T he founders of the UK
Speechwriters’ Guild have
officially launched the European
English is not their native language.”

In a visit to Brussels in January,

Speechwriter Network. Brian Jenner met with speechwriters
to discuss an inaugural conference in
The new website can be found at Brussels in September 2013.
“We’ve had a number of Dutch,
Brian Jenner, the organiser, said: Danish and German speechwriters
“Since the accession of the Baltic come to our conferences over
states and the Eastern European the past few years, so the new
states, English has cemented its place organisation reflects the ‘pan-
as the lingua franca of the EU. European’ scope of the role these
“The European Speechwriter José Iturri, an interpreter at the European
Network will bring together those “The European Commission Commission, asking a question at the
specialists who write speeches in is quite open about its use of UK Speechwriters’ Guild conference in
English for their bosses, even if professional speechwriters. Bournemouth.


E arlier this year, a man This is an open questions which Firstly, the unexpected thing
of considerable wealth, can lead to discussion of parents, is, when a person reads out what
domiciled abroad, contacted me wives and children. ‘Nobody’. they’ve written, they often can’t
to say he wanted a speech for his help welling up. I’m not advocating
60th birthday. He had completed I sensed then this was going to be delivering schmaltzy speeches, but
the renovation of a house in a difficult client. When I give talks on key into those buried emotions and
central London and was planning a how to do social speeches, I suggest you’re going to find rich material.
combined celebration. a technique I found in a book by
the psychotherapist Irvin Yalom. Secondly, the impulse of many
“I just want a five minute speech He advocates an exercise called inexperienced speakers is to be
he says to deliver in front of a dozen ‘rippling’: acknowledging those abusive, because they think it’s funny.
friends and family in my house in people who have influenced your life. A roast is an American ritual whereby
London.” the speakers are rude to the target
All too often we wait until a as a backhanded compliment. This
I told him I would have to person is dead before we tell them works in the hands of professional
interview him and I quoted him a fee. what we appreciated about them: comedians. It might be possible for
Yalom says identify those people you to copy them, but when you’re
Any landmark birthday is going who have helped to shape your life looking for humour, start off working
to be an emotional occasion. and write a letter to express your out what you like about the person. It
It’s a moment to take stock. Like gratitude. He goes further and says means the speech is framed correctly.
Christmas, it’s supposed to be a rather than waiting until their funeral,
happy occasion, but like Christmas, it arrange a ‘gratitude’ visit to that Back to my wealthy client.
can expose uncomfortable truths. If person, and read your letter out.
I’m looking for good material for the ‘Do you have any children?’
speech, I’ve got to dig a little. So much for the exercise. Why is it
relevant for speechwriting? Giving a I got the sense that he was
My first questions was: ‘Who do wedding speech or a birthday speech resentful of them not fulfilling their
you want to thank?’ needs to start with appreciation - for potential. And he wasn’t going to tell
two reasons. me about his parents or any ex-wives.

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Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

‘Your date of birth?’ questions, and I got the following which expressed his dismay at the
replies: admission of women to the club. You
The date of birth at least gave can’t simultaneously disdain and
me the chance to find something Have you had any more amuse your audience.
significant about the time he was thoughts about your speech?
born. I could also speculate on how After the date of delivery I politely
he felt when he was 21. This is in your court. emailed him again to settle the
balance. He emailed back: ‘Sorry,
‘Have you had any memorable Are there any of your friends in rejected it.’ I was tempted to argue,
birthdays?’ the room who are your age or older but I concluded he gave me some
who you can tease? useful material of his own.
He told me a story about an
ex-girlfriend. This turned out to be None.
stony ground. I tried to probe into a
different part of his life. What inspired Do you ever bump into the THE
his business success? He seemed neighbours? COMMANDMENTS
taken aback by such a question. He
was clearly not used to introspection. No.
He told me how he’d been lucky 1) Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out
buying properties and he learnt that The strategy in this case has to thy Usual Shtick
central London prices never dipped. be to find some bland one-liners
that are appropriate without being 2) Thou Shalt Dream a Great
‘Do you have any funny stories irrelevant. I put in a joke about Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous
from your business career?’ how his doctor had recommended New Thing, Or Share Something Thou
Viagra and prune juice. But he’d said, Hast Never Shared Before
He explained how he’d once had no thank you, he wanted to know
a purchaser who didn’t understand whether he was coming or going. 3) Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity
the difference between freehold and and Thy Passion
leasehold. I was hoping for some I put in jokes about his children,
kind of punchline, but it never came. jokes about how he was born 4) Thou Shalt Tell a Story
He told me he wasn’t moving back the same year as Vladimir Putin
to England because it’s going to the and Jimmy Connors. I improvised 5) Thou Shalt Freely Comment on
dogs. something about his attempts to the Utterances of Other Speakers for
learn French. I put together nine the Sake of Blessed Connection and
Sometimes it takes 24 hours for minutes of text for his five-minute Exquisite Controversy
good material to surface. I decided to speech, so he could skim off the
bring the interview to a close. I said cream. 6) Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine
I would start writing and ask more Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy
questions later. He agreed to pay 50% up front, Failure as well as thy Success.
then 50% on sight. I sent him the
I Googled him. I do this for most speech. It was followed by radio 7) Thou Shalt Not Sell from
of the people I write for, ever since silence. The speech was to be made the Stage: Neither thy Company,
one client asked me to call her back a few days later, so I sent a follow-up thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy
on a premium line, which I later email saying I was happy to work Desperate need for Funding; Lest
discovered, was also used to run an with him on amendments. No reply. Thou be Cast Aside into Outer
escort agency. Darkness.
There’s a good Jewish proverb:
The results didn’t fill me with With money in your pocket, you are 8) Thou Shalt Remember all the
confidence. He was rich, but he’d wise and you are handsome and you while: Laughter is Good.
been involved in scrapes. But, sing well too. As speechwriters, we
you never can tell, last year I did can help, but we’re not in the miracle 9) Thou Shalt Not Read thy
some work for someone had been business. We can’t be expected to Speech.
described in the House of Commons shore up a crumbling life.
as a man who should be ‘shunned as 10) Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time
a business leper’. I got my money. It reminded me of a time when of Them that Follow Thee
a president of a golf club wanted
The next day I fired off some extra me to write a ‘funny speech’

The Speechwriter February 2013 | Volume 11 9

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 his book ‘The Places in Between’

speechwriter in the Netherlands? on Afghanistan very much. And
I recently enjoyed watching his their mother tongue. My tip is to
Merely by chance. TedXTalk on why democracy matters. keep it as basic as possible. This
may lead to some quarreling with
Can you remember the first What is your book about? professional language translators. In
speech you ever wrote? these discussions it is important to
The book reveals how stand your ground.
Yes, it was in my second year at dictatorships in Europe used tourism
university. I remember working on for the purpose of propaganda.
it through the night. I survived on And it is an account of my travels in DATES FOR THE
strong coffee and loud music. former European dictatorships. The
leading question is: how do they DIARY
Are you employed to write handle the relics of dictatorship?
speeches in English as well as Can you visit the grave of Benito
Dutch? How does that work? Mussolini? Is the birthplace of Enver Spring Leadership &
Hoxha open to the public? What Communication Conference
Yes, I write in both English happened to Hitler’s flat in Munich? 15-17 May 2013
and Dutch. Professional language In short: a dictatour of Europe. Institute for Government, London
translators check the final version of
speeches in English. Tell us about the ‘speechwriting’ To buy tickets go to:
scene in the Netherlands. http://internationalspeechwriting.
Is it easy to get access to the
ministers you write for? Dutch speechwriters are
associated in a network called ’t Essentials of Speechwriting
It could be better, it could be Doode Paert. Or, in English: The Dead Training
worse. Horse Society. The (ironic) name 6 June 2013
is derived from the Dutch saying Institute for Government, London
Did you do debating at school? ‘trekken aan een dood paard’ (pulling
a dead horse). It means something To register go to:
Unfortunately not. It is hardly a like ‘being on a mission impossible’. http://essentialsofspeechwriting.
tradition in the Netherlands. Need I say more?

What do you think of British Are there any Dutch writers you Autumn Leadership &
Euroscepticism? recommend? Communication Conference
19 & 20 September 2013
From a speechwriter’s point of I recommend Cees Nooteboom Résidence Palace, Brussels
view it is rather amusing. It brought and Frank Westerman. Nooteboom’s
us famous speeches such as Margaret novel ‘All Soul’s Day’ is one of the best To buy tickets go to:
Thatcher’s Bruges Speech and I have ever read. And Westerman is http://europeanspeechwriters.
Geoffrey Howe’s Resignation Speech. one of our finest non-fiction writers.
And it brought us entertaining I especially endorse ‘Ararat’ and
speakers like Nigel Farage. Quite ‘Engineers of the Soul’.
Do you have a tip for writing for The Speechwriter is edited by
Who is your favourite English- multilingual audiences? Brian Jenner
speaking politician?

Most speeches for multilingual Design by

That must be Rory Stewart. A audiences are in English. For many
politician as well as a writer. I liked people in the audience this is not