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January 2012 | Volume 08

The Speechwriter
Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild


Welcome to the eighth edition
of The Speechwriter newsletter. B ill Lane was Jack Welch’s
speechwriter. He wrote a
book about his experiences with
• Are their needs the focus of my
The purpose of this publication is
the legendary leader of General • Will there be any question in their
to circulate examples of excellent
Electric called Jacked Up. It explains minds after the first minute as to why
speeches to members of the UK how they built a culture of excellent they should be listening intently to
Speechwriters’ Guild. We do this presentations at the company. what I say?
by picking out openings, closings,
one-liners and quotations and It’s written in • Have I scrubbed every
other topical extracts from a swashbuckling needless detail, obscure
style with acronym, and piece of
newspapers and the internet to
recommendations trendy jargon from the
identify techniques, stimulate in bold at the end pitch?
your imagination and provide of each chapter on
models which you can emulate. how to improve. • Are all these charts
Invocations like: necessary? Have I
This newsletter appears considered shutting down
quarterly and is available to In any the visuals periodically and
presentation, to speaking to the faces in the
anyone who is a Standard
any audience, crowd or across the table?
Member of the UK Speechwriters’ you must ‘season’
Guild. a success story – • Will every word and
even a triumphant number be visible to every
success story – with some single individual in every part of the
commentary on ‘where we came up room?
short’…An unalloyed ‘success story’
causes any audience to switch on its • Could this presentation be shorter
BS detectors. without losing anything of major
Contribute significance to the audience? (Hint:
‘take the first step toward Yes of course it could.)
We need your speeches. Most improving your internal and
of the examples in this edition are external communications…insist on • Did I rehearse it? Try it out on
taken from the Americans. total candour in every presentation, someone I respect? Did I incorporate
beginning with your own.’ that person’s views and make
We want to raise standards in
He ends the book with these
the UK. Please send examples of • Do I simply want to ‘get this thing
‘Final Thoughts’.
speeches to: over with’? Or despite being nervous
Look at yourself in the mirror and and stressed from the preparation
answer, honestly: workload, do I, like Jack Welch before
his Bechtel presentation, find I just
• Did I do my homework on this can’t wait to get up in front of these
audience of one or a hundred; put people because I know my pitch is
myself in their place, and ask what going to blow them away?!
would be useful to them?

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 2

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

BOOK REVIEWS Churchill’s reputation as a great

hundreds of quirky references that
lead you to look at TED talks and slide
presentations on the internet.
Sister Miriam Joseph wrote about
how Shakespeare used ‘the trivium’ – The book covers slide design,
she’s worth Googling and he praises font selection and story construction
the Mormon website called the in detail. The extraordinary thing is
Forest of Rhetoric http://rhetoric.byu. Alexei is Russian, but apart from the
edu/ occasional presentation he refers
to which is in Russian, this seems
I hope the publication of this only to add to the sharpness of his
book indicates that rhetoric is observations. His range of reference
coming back into fashion. It should stretches from Jim Jarmusch to
also encourage members of the Stephen Hawking, English academics
UKSG to put pen to paper and be to American business gurus.
part of the new wave. Mr Leith has
done lots of careful research and Alexei Kapterev will be the
he knows his subject, it’s just a pity keynote speaker at the UK
that he writes in a repugnant style, Speechwriters’ Guild Spring
which is neither academic, humorous Conference 2012 in London.
or accessible. Instead of explaining
obscure figures of speech in frivolous
ways, he would have been wiser
Presentation as War
to follow that corny American By Chuck Boyer & Bill Dunne
You Talkin’ To Me speechwriting mantra KISS, (keep it Published by CreateSpace (108
By Sam Leith simple, stupid). Pages) ISBN 0615520235, $17.95
Published by Profile Books (304
pages) ISBN 1846683157, £14.99 Presentation Secrets
By Alexei Kapterev, Published by
T his is a rather unfortunate
title, since in recent years
America has waged war in the way

I ’m tempted to be negative
about this book, but the
hardback retails at just over £7 on
John Wiley & Sons (288 pages)
ISBN 1118034961, £23.99
its corporate leaders like to deliver
presentations – overwhelming
with technology rather than the
Amazon. That’s ridiculously cheap application of wisdom and reflection.
for a work that is flawed, but has Once you’ve got over that, the
redeeming qualities. Mr Leith content is entertaining and useful.
is rather pleased with his wide
knowledge of popular culture and There are profiles of great military
high-brow literature, so we get figures from American and European
Eminem and Beowolf mentioned in history and explanations of how
the same paragraph. I go through a they used their communication
work like this ruthlessly tearing out skills to lead their troops. The
the odd page that might come in authors have worked in corporate
useful for a speech in the future. and military environments and
they draw examples from both. To
I’d never heard of Ad Herennium make the lessons of public speaking
before, (it’s a rhetorical textbook). memorable we need metaphors and
Leith explains rhetorical principles similes from all walks of life – this

and gives examples. He discusses his is a very likeable book. short book is a satisfying addition to
Obama, Sarah Palin and Peggy It’s lavishly illustrated with the canon.
Noonan in an idiosyncratic style. colour images explaining the art of
There was a Greek joke book called giving speeches and presentations. Brian Jenner
Philogelos. There’s a fine recording of It’s very personal with Mr Kapeterev
Ian Richardson doing one of Satan’s giving insights into how his career
speeches on YouTube. There is a as a presenter has evolved by
persuasive critique of Tim Collins’ Iraq watching Eddie Izzard and learning
speech and half a chapter debunking to sing (among other things). It has

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 3

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild



His solution was to say in Russian

something along the lines of “he’s BEN DUNCAN
just told a joke that I can’t translate
into Russian, so you had all better
start laughing - NOW” - which
apparently worked well enough
for the locals to think that their
guests had both understood and
appreciated the joke they’d just

What did they really mean?

I once worked with a graduate Ben Duncan from the European

student, whose bilingual abilities in Centre for Disease Prevention and
English and Japanese enabled her to Control in Sweden will be speaking
’Simplification’ isn’t always the earn fees that more than paid for her about how to address foreign
answer higher education. On one occasion audiences at the UK Speechwriters’
when she got back from a high-level Guild Spring Conference in

T he first time I ever spoke at a business meeting where she’d been February.
conference where most of the doing simultaneous translation from
audience were non-native speakers Japanese for her British clients, I
of English, I quickly became aware asked her how it had gone.
that they weren’t understanding
much of what I was saying. So I “OK as far as it went - but I do P ersistence is your greatest
It is in the nature of
barriers that they fall.
Do not seek to
started to make it simpler - or so I think that they should pay me
thought. for an extra hour afterwards to become like your opponents.
tell them what I think they really have the burden and the great joy of
In retrospect, I realised that meant.” being outsiders.
Every day you live
my pitiful attempt to make things is a kind of triumph.
This you should
‘simpler’ had led me to use more Does it matter? cling on to.
You should make no
and more slang and colloquial effort to try and join society.
expressions than I would ever With so much hanging on
normally do in an academic lecture. recent meetings between Euro- Stay right where you are.
These may have made it easier for zone leaders, not to mention other your name and serial number and
the native speakers of English to important ‘conversations’ taking wait for society to form itself around
understand, but had made it far more place elsewhere in our ever more you because it most certainly will.
difficult for everyone else. ‘globalized’ world, a question that
Neither look forward where there
comes to mind is:
Translate jokes or tell the is doubt nor backward where there
How much should we worry is regret.
Look inward, and ask not
audience to laugh?
about our reliance on simultaneous if there is anything outside that you
translation and/or the pretence that want, but whether there is anything
A former colleague of mine, who
everyone speaks or understands inside you have not yet unpacked.
was a fluent speaker and teacher
of Russian, used to be hired to do English as well as we do?
Quentin Crisp, An Englishman in
simultaneous translation for visitors
This was the 700th posting New York
from the (then) Soviet Union at major
civic events. One of his problems was on Max Atkinson’s blog: http://
that the speeches by ‘locals’ often
included jokes that he found quite
impossible to translate.

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 4

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

OUTSTANDING SPEECHES about, Pericles and Dryden, the

intricacies of the Andrassy Note and
the deficiencies of the San Stefano
be inclined to agree. With which Treaty, the merits of Protection and
all of us who might aspire to be Mr the arguments from first principles
Gladstone’s heirs in the Commons for Free Trade.
would do well to acquaint ourselves.
The public were paid the
Invited to reflect on other compliment of assuming they were
contrasts between then and now you intellectually curious. They weren’t
might consider how far standards of patronised by being treated as rude
oratory had fallen. You wouldn’t get a mechanicals.
speech like that in Parliament today.
It would have been unthinkable
But Gladstone wasn’t speaking for Gladstone to have used the
in Parliament. He was addressing House of Commons to answer a
a crowd of landless agricultural question on the fate of a character in
workers and coal miners in Scotland’s a soap opera, as Tony Blair did when
central belt. he expressed his support for the
innocence of Deirdre Rachid.

In 1879 William Gladstone gave

one of his more memorable
Gladstone’s Third Midlothian
Address is remembered today,
insofar as it is remembered today, as
It would have been inconceivable
for any member of his Cabinet to
the culminating moment in his back- have sought public approbation
In the course of his oration he to-the-people, grass-roots, comeback by letting the world know they had
invoked Pericles, Virgil and Dryden, kid campaign for the premiership. the critical tastes of a teenager, as
he poured scorn on Disraeli’s Gordon Brown once did, when he
doctrine of Imperium et Libertas, he It deserves to be remembered confessed his fondness for the Arctic
discussed the merits of the Andrassy as an important moment in the Monkeys.
Note and the Treaty of San Stefano Manichean struggle between the
and he outlined six principles of crusader Gladstone and his cynical It would have been impossible to
Liberal foreign policy - specifically adversary Disraeli, between the credit if any leading politician of their
a limit on legislation and public Liberal Party in its High Victorian age had been asked, as Nick Clegg
expenditure at home to conserve the heyday as a guardian of limited was, how many lovers they had
nation’s strength, the preservation of Government and a Tory Party of a taken before marriage, or as David
peace, the maintenance of a balance proudly imperial kind that we no Cameron was, whether or not he
of power in Europe, the avoidance longer know. had harboured lurid sexual fantasies
of needless entanglements, the about a previous party leader.
acknowledgement of the equal But the reason I recall that
rights of all nations and a positive speech now, is because the most I draw these comparisons
bias in favour of those people striking thing about the Midlothian not because I am such a narrow
fighting for freedom. campaign is not how different today’s nostalgist that I wish to live in a
Liberals and Tories are from those of pristine past purged of modern
In the same address, Gladstone one hundred and thirty years ago. popular culture.
also compared the arguments
for Protection and Free Trade, I think the most striking thing is I draw them because I look
enumerating the advantages of Free how different the public of 130 years back with admiration at the great
Trade, he discussed the folly of land ago were. Victorian statesman, their intellectual
reform and the break up of great and cultural self-confidence, and in
estates as a remedy for agricultural Or more specifically, how different particular the great ambitions they
distress and he went onto argue were the expectations that the harboured for the British people.
that wealth creators should be free political class had of that public.
from every unjust and unnecessary Speech by Michael Gove,
legislative restraint. It was assumed that an audience Secretary of State for Education,
of agricultural labourers and Cambridge University, 24
Impressive you might say. Some mineworkers would either be familiar November, 2011
admirable sentiments you might with or, at the very least be curious

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 5

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

Caring for a sick man. Caring for the answer to be a firm ‘no’. I was
the man’s wife. And caring for the therefore surprised when almost 90%
people in the crowd. That’s what of respondents said ‘yes’. ‘Sometimes,’
inspired my son. one of them wrote, ‘these people
should just shut up’. Undeterred, here
And that’s how my father inspired I am for my first speech.
me a generation ago. It wouldn’t be
allowed now, but he used to take Speech given by Ben Broadbent,
me with him on home visits in the External Member of the Monetary
postwar slums of Peterborough. Policy Committee, Bank of England

I ’d like to tell you a story about a

GP, a radiologist, a pathologist
and a psychiatrist. Sounds like the
I watched him treat children with
measles and care for the dying in
their homes. That’s when I knew I
at Thomson Reuters, London, 26
September, 2011

first line of a joke, but it isn’t. The GP wanted to be a doctor.

was me.
Why did I tell you that story?
We were having dinner with Because I believe each of us has
our children at an open-air opera a story about what inspired us to
in Germany. The place was packed. become a doctor. A story that made
Everyone was having a good time, us what we are today. A story that
when the dreaded happened. Out of lights our way to the future.
the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly
man fall headfirst into his plate. Our stories have never been more
important. Especially now, when
The four of us looked at our profession is under pressure to
each other. We knew our meal replace the language of caring with
was over and we swung into the language of the market.
action. Each working to type. The
psychiatrist tending to the man’s Address by Clare Gerada,
wife. The radiologist searching Chair, Royal College of General
for a defibrillator. The pathologist
pounding on the poor man’s chest.
Practitioners delivered at Annual
Primary Care Conference, Liverpool,
M y message today is that
you do not have to wait to
make a difference. Your world needs
Me giving mouth-to-mouth. England, 20 October, 2011 (with your leadership; and that means
support from Creativity Works, undertaking responsibility.
From the way he keeled over, it members of the UK Speechwriters’ challenge is to decide how you will
was obvious he was dead. But we Guild) make your contributions.
I’d like to
knew there was still plenty for us to
end with a brief story about a young
do. We had to comfort his distressed
African-American called Anthony
wife. And we had to keep the
who came to work as an intern in
crowd calm for 30 minutes, till the
my office.
He wrote me after his time
paramedics arrived.
at the Embassy and told me how
When it was over, my 15-year-old he had grown up in a poor family in
son turned to me and said: ‘I want to rural Georgia.
He said that just before
be able to do that.’ he went to college, his grandfather
told him that the two most important
‘Do what?’ I asked him. things for him to remember were:
one – protect your reputation; and
‘Care for people,’ he said. S ome years ago, when in my
last job, I conducted a small
survey of investors. It was about
two – always follow your dreams.
can’t think of a better two better
His reply surprised me. Not pieces of advice to keep in mind as
central bank communication. Most
just because impressing teenage you embark on your futures.

of the questions involved how this
children isn’t easy. But because what should be done, but I also asked
impressed him wasn’t the glory and Meeting our responsibilities
about the amount of it – is it possible as global citizens. American
the drama of our public display of for central bankers to talk too much?
medical skill. No. What impressed Ambassador Susman, Edinburgh
Given markets’ apparently insatiable University, 26 October, 2011
him was our simple act of caring. appetite for information, I’d expected

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 6

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

‘It is said that human beings can that, if there were no bad people,
live for 40 days without food, four there would be no good lawyers.
days without water and four minutes
without air. But we cannot live for But one of his central themes is
four seconds without hope... The connection between every member
oxygen of human society is hope’. and every level of society - especially
the responsibility of the haves to the
Today, I am here to speak to you have nots.
about hope.
His message is just as important
I believe that if we in this room – today. Times have changed, but we
leaders from the worlds of business, in the City know our responsibilities
finance and politics – have the ability and our vital connections – to
to imagine a future of growth and industry, to those in need and to our
development for our enterprises and nation. We cherish this role – and I, as
for our nations, then we also have a Lord Mayor, will do everything I can
collective responsibility to make that to strengthen it – and work with you,
vision a reality. Prime Minister, and the Government,
for a better, more prosperous future

L adies and Gentlemen. Good Speech by Sergio Marchionne, – for all.

morning to you all. Chairman/CEO of Chrysler
Group and CEO of Fiat at the CBI And so, may I now please ask you
It is a particular pleasure to be Conference, 21 November, 2011 to stand for the toast. The toast is:
here today, not only because of Fiat’s Her Majesty’s Ministers.
relationship with the CBI, which
goes back some 20 years, but also The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor
because of the opportunity it gives of London Alderman David
me to share some thoughts with Wootton, Lord Mayor’s Banquet, 14
you on the historic moment we are November, 2011
currently living through and on how
businesses can contribute to the
development of their domestic and
regional economies.

The recent protests across Europe,

soaring unemployment and the
social crisis that exists in many parts
of the world all provide ample reason
for commentators to talk about
the ‘age of outrage’ and to fuel a
pessimistic vision of the future.
A nd what a privilege it is to

serve as Lord Mayor in such here is nobody in this country
a very special year – the Diamond who got rich on his own.
However – although I by
Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. Nobody.
no means underestimate the
seriousness of current circumstances
A life of duty and dignity, of You built a factory out there—
in Europe and around the globe
service and goodness – connecting good for you! But I want to be clear.
– I am not here to dwell on the
the ancient institution of the
current woes or speak of a dark and
Monarchy, with the demands of an You moved your goods to market
uncertain future.
ever-changing world. We all owe Her on the roads the rest of us paid for.
Majesty a huge debt of gratitude.
In a recent article in the Wall
Street Journal dealing with the You hired workers the rest of us
A man whose bicentenary we will paid to educate.
untimely death of Steve Jobs, I
celebrate in 2012 is Charles Dickens.
found the following statement that
should serve as a proper start to my You were safe in your factory
This lawyer of 35 years standing because of police forces and fire
reflections tonight.
respectfully disagrees with his view forces that the rest of us paid for.

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 7

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

You didn’t have to worry that And the question with what’s sector heading for another crisis in a
maurauding bands would come and happened since 2008 is whether few years time?
seize everything at your factory, and this has been a Weekend at Bernie’s
hire someone to protect against this, recovery? And the third, the bank of Mum
because of the work the rest of us and Dad problem is another aspect
did. Because, we’ve had many of this crisis.
schemes, the cash for clunkers, home
Now look, you built a factory and price subsidies, which have propped The bill has been passed up the
it turned into something terrific, or up business. And the danger is, chain. So individual home owners
a great idea—God bless. Keep a big we fear, as we saw when cash for couldn’t pay their mortgages. It was
hunk of it. clunkers ended, if you let your hand passed to the banks. The banks could
go, then the corpse slumps back onto meet their debts. It was passed to
But part of the underlying social the chair. the states. And now small states
contract is you take a hunk of that can’t meet their debts. And it’s been
and pay forward for the next kid who And is this recovery really as passed to the big states, in particular
comes along. strong as it should be, or is it entirely Germany.
supported by Government and
Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Central Bank action? So the question is how far can
United States Senate candidate that process run? And what happens
2012, speaking tour in Andover, And the second issue: the toddler when Mum and Dad, the biggest
Massachusetts, August 2011 tantrum one. Being a parent, we used states in the world start to run out
to share a nanny with an investment of money? Or start to decide that
banker, whose kid wouldn’t eat their maybe they are fed up of paying for
lunch. their children’s sins.

I ’m Philip
Coggan I write
the Buttonwood
And so if they didn’t eat the
lunch, the toddler would be given a
Hopefully all three issues will get
covered during the day.
column in The chocolate bar, to make sure that they
Economist and I’m got some nutrition into them. I’m very pleased to welcome
chairing this event our first guest, as a former history
today. Now this only being one year old, student, I get rather fed up with the
this kid was bright enough to reckon fact that economists dominate all
I’d like to just raise just three that if you didn’t eat, then you’d get these debates. But Niall Fergusson
issues, which I hope will be aired a chocolate bar and so that was the has plunged in even debating with
during the day which I call the way that the diet went. Paul Krugman, which is some sort of
Weekend at Bernie’s problem, the form of lèse-majeste to even take on
toddler tantrum problem and the And we call this problem moral such a figure.
bank of Mum and Dad problem. hazard.
Historians have a lot to say about
So Weekend at Bernie’s for those of Although Mervyn King and other these issues, which have featured
you not cinéastes or even if you are people wanted not to rescue the throughout history. He is well
cinéastes because it wasn’t exactly financial sector in 2008, it was a bit known to your all. His latest book is
Citizen Kane, was a film in the late like that moment on the plane, when Civilisation: The West and The Rest.
80s in which two young office types you get on and your kid is screaming He’s also written highly acclaimed
get invited to their boss’s home in and you’ll do anything, absolutely books about The Ascent of Money,
the Hamptons for the weekend and anything, just to get them to go quiet the History of the Rosthchilds and the
they go out looking forward to sun, so other people don’t stare at you. biography of Siegmund Warburg.
sea and all the rest of it, only to find So the financial sector was rescued,
that the boss has died. interest rates were cut, some reforms So Niall, I’d like to welcome you to
were put into place, but nothing like the stage.
So rather than spoil the party, on the scale of post 1929. Nothing
they put dark glasses on him, prop like the Glass Steagal act. Philip Coggan, Bellwether
him up and conduct the entire Europe, Redefining Capital Markets,
weekend, waving his arm around So have we ended up just The East Wintergarden, London, 10
to keep the party going, and much rewarding the toddler for the May, 2011
hilarity ensues. tantrum? Have we got a financial

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 8

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild


Brian Jenner argues that the London Mayor’s speeches are smarter than most people give him credit for

It was so simple, it wouldn’t It’s a message that can guide

matter. By using the quotation, he every decision made in the
underlined the hopeful sentiment. Government hierarchy without the
leader ever having to give explicit
Boris peppers his speeches instructions.
with surprises and self-deprecating
modesty, but he also makes very Boris also has a vision. He can
serious points. He invokes the make very serious speeches like
German beschäftingungs Wunder the one at the launch of a report on
– the small employment miracle, Britain’s airport capacity. He wants a
perhaps for comic effect, but it works new London airport in the Thames
also as a memorable phrase. Estuary saying, you can’t put a ‘Quart
into a pint pot at Heathrow’.
He burbles on but he underlines
the message of dealing with Max Atkinson points out that
youth unemployment and the every speaker has the challenge
status of London as a European of keeping the attention of the
capital. Whether he’s plugging a audience. Boris uses humorous
biodegradeable coffin, a Barclay’s asides, and questions to the audience
bike or a hydrogen generator, to achieve this.
W hile searching for
candidates for the UK
Speechwriters’ Guild Business
he’s not afraid to sell London with
undisguised joie de vivre. He’s spirited. He made good jokes
about how the rioters didn’t steal any
Communicator of the Year 2012, I I say to my friends at the bikes or antiquarian books. Having
found a speech by Boris Johnson on Treasury, F D Roosevelt had the new pointed out how London leads the
the CBI website. deal, I’ll give you the wheel deal. world in green energy conservation,
he quipped.
It was so good, it was tempting A leader has to tell people what
to put him forward for the award, to do. Boris grasps this. Von Moltke One thing we’re not going to be
even though he’s a politician, not a the Elder said that ‘Strategy is not a lagging in London, is lagging.
business man. lengthy action plan but rather ‘the
evolution of a central idea through He said:
What makes Boris so special?
continually changing circumstances’’.
We export teabags to China.
He has a light touch. He said his
This is what’s lacking in many
political hero was the mayor in Jaws. We export bicycles from
of the Big Society speeches. What
The mayor was the one who wanted Chiswick to Holland.
exactly do we have to do to be part
to keep the beaches open.
of the Big Society?
We export TV aerials from
This isn’t the first time that he Wandsworth to Korea
The Mayor’s message is
has used a reference to popular
encapsulated in one simple
film culture. In his 2008 New We export cake to France from
quotation from Mahatma Gandhi:
Year message he quoted Colonel Waltham Forest
‘We’re putting the village back into
Kilgore from the film Apocalypse
the city.’
Now, making an analogy with the He does lapse into manically
recession. Lt Col Kilgore said: ‘Some Every Londoner can understand self-centred hyperbole about Britain,
day captain, this war is going to that. We want the fruits of global or London, being responsible for
end.’ Boris insisted that one day the capitalism, but it’s no good if you every significant innovation in green
recession would end. Would they can’t have a civil conversation with energy, sport or trade, but it keeps
understand the reference outside the a next-door neighbour. We need his audience entertained.
art house cinemas of Islington? homes with ‘rooms big enough for
human beings rather than hobbits’.

The Speechwriter January 2012 | Volume 08 9

Newsletter of The UK Speechwriters’ Guild

There’s a corny line used by

public speaking trainers which goes,
when Aeschines spoke the people
said, ‘How well he speaks’, when What’s the biggest challenge
Demosthenes spoke the people said: writing in English as a non-native
‘Let’s march!’. speaker?

Boris Johnson’s delivery can I beg to disagree with those

be erratic, but his speeches have who believe a native’s impeccable
charm and remind you that we can grammar and spelling are the key to
all contribute to making London a good speeches. What distinguishes
better place. He makes you want to a good speech from an average one
be part of the process. is not its punctuation. It’s its ideas,
its structure and its effective use
Chip and Dan Heath explain in of rhetoric to bring a point across.
their book Switch, How to Change How did you get into Native proficiency of a language is
Things When Things Are Hard if you speechwriting? no measure for whether someone
want to change anything, analysing a has a sense for that. I think the
problem in depth often doesn’t help.
Instead observe what works and I happened to read an interview
with a former speechwriter for
the Dutch government. I must have
gap between native and non-
native writers (and audiences) is
copy that. exaggerated in this respect.
applied for a post in that office the
The Mayor pulls off the Classical next day. It had never occurred to me However, I’ll be the first to admit
hatrick: docere, movere, delectare that these people exist, but it was that I can write infinitely better in
(educate, motivate, entertain). He (and still is) the perfect synthesis of my mother tongue. In Dutch I can
livened up the CBI which is good for the dryly analytical and the wildly play with words and win the battle
British business. He gives excellent creative. It also offers a socially by a length. Mastering the different
speeches which invigorate our public relevant way to apply what I learned shades of a vocabulary, being at
life. We wish there were more like as a student of political theory ease with a language’s particular
him. and during years of competitive expressions and constructions,
debating. having the confidence that you will
spot any mistake; all of that requires
How far is it possible to inject extra effort from a non-native
As you grow older and life passion into the speeches you speaker. In a job that revolves so
itself becomes more elaborate write? much around language, it sometimes
and complex, you find yourself does feel like a handicap not to be
using simpler words. And this is Europe needs and deserves more using your own.
not only because your brain cells passionate speeches from European
are dying. It is also, for some of and national politicians. On top of What’s your most useful
us, because you have grown the rational arguments for a united reference book?
used to life, even comfortable Europe, there are plenty of grand
with it, and understand that it European ideas and narratives that The notebook in which I collect
comes down to essentials, that could easily touch our hearts. quotes, ideas and other references
the big things count and the rest as I stumble upon them. I spot
is commentary, and that way But it is not always feasible to potential future uses for random bits
down deep in the heart of life’s build a speech around dreams and of information all the time, but I’m
extraordinary complexity is… visions. Imagine the passionate terrible at recalling them once they’re
extraordinary simplicity. delivery of a speech outlining a new needed. My notebook has helped
funding mechanism. I doubt it would spice up many a page.
Peggy Noonan, On Speaking be very credible, yet that inevitably is
Well a speech someone will have to give Email:
(and I may have to write), too.

The Speechwriter is edited by Brian


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