Speechwriter 101

SAY IT WELL

Speech Writing Tips

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  • How To Hold a Microphone
    * Hold the mic at 45°.
    * Hold it firmly, yet relaxed. That is, your fingers grip it all around but you aren’t tense.
    * When you turn, turn the mic with you. Your mic follows your mouth. Your other arm is free to gesticulate as wildly as you like.
    * If you need to switch hands, grab the mic with the other hand, as opposed to moving the mic to the second hand.
    * Keep the head of the mic 2-5 fingers from your lips. If it is any closer, you’ll sound like a heavy breather. Any farther, and the mic won’t pick up your voice well.
    * Overall, relax. While you can imagine the mic is attached to your lips by an invisible line, you want to avoid appearing robotic.
  • Blockage, Anyone? (Writer’s Block)
    ​How about writer’s block? Writer’s block is something that I’ve not encountered. Why? Ideas are everywhere. Or, maybe I’ve never noticed because I intuitively deal with it before it becomes an issue. What if it happens to you? What can you do? Go for a long run. If you aren’t a runner, go for a walk. If you can’t do that, go to a well-populated park and sit next to a stranger. Bring snacks. Stay awhile. Listen. Share.
  • Don’t Be Elegant (Be Simple)
    Simple gets the job done. I get paid to be articulate. Or, more to the point, to help my clients be articulate. A temptation for speechwriters, especially those with literary backgrounds like myself, or rhetoric backgrounds, is to write more elaborately. A speech can certainly benefit from classic writing influences, but hold back. Use eloquence as a tool, not as a driver.
  • Maybe I’m Amazed (Inspirational Speeches)
    Are you amazed as you practice your speech? Are you thinking, “Wow, I’m thrilled to be listening to this guy!”? When I read my own work back, I sometimes get teary-eyed or revved up. This is because I’m my first audience and I wrote with me in mind. Sure, I have to be sure it works for other people, but if I’m not impressed, chances are they won’t be either. Don’t hold back. Put your whole heart in and watch what comes out. Amaze yourself.
  • Steal Everything
    Well, not everything. That will land you in jail. Liberate great ideas. When you develop your speech, consider the vast wealth of great ideas around you. Pick from the best and make them your own. More.


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