Rob’s blog

Translating client feedback: What they say vs. what they want

Translating client feedback: What they say vs. what they want

One of your most important skills as a speechwriter is listening to your client when they give you feedback. That often means hearing past their words, to what they’re actually saying… and it almost always means probing more deeply for the real issue behind a comment...

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Maybe speechwriting doesn’t matter so much after all..?

You’ve probably heard speeches you'd swear were content-free. Here’s one that actually is — and it’s a TEDx talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S0FDjFBj8o Beneath that hollow exterior lurks actual content: a pretty devastating critique of how a thin speech can...

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The Presentation Audience’s Bill of Rights

The Presentation Audience’s Bill of Rights

WHEREAS life is short and our time on Earth is finite; WHEREAS the duration of a bad presentation is subjectively many times longer than that of a good one; WHEREAS the dedication of audience's time and attention to a speaker is a gift of considerable value, not to be...

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When your audience isn’t feeling the Bern

When your audience isn’t feeling the Bern

This weekend, Bernie Sanders spoke to a predominantly African-American audience at the dining room of a South Carolina church. According to this account, the response from the mealtime crowd was tepid: polite clapping for all but a couple of lines. We’re used to...

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Capturing a speaker’s voice matters

This post argues that speechwriters shouldn't worry about capturing a speaker's voice. Structure the speech well, Mike Long argues, and it'll all come out in the wash. And while I understand that all the tailored turns of phrase in the world can't save a bad speech,...

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The State of the Union is social

The State of the Union is social

There's a point I've been hammering for years now (and I do mean years): the rise of social networks and easily-shared media should mean a profound change in the way speakers and speechwriters approach our craft: at once both broader in scope and more conversational...

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How Obama’s messy closet saved the State of the Union speech

How Obama’s messy closet saved the State of the Union speech

State of the Union speeches are often messy, sprawling things. Countless constituencies and interests — within and outside government — vie to hear their priorities reflected in the President's words. And even without their lobbying, the scope of governing is vast,...

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A great podcast for speechwriters (and other storytellers)

A great podcast for speechwriters (and other storytellers)

"Tell a story" is advice you'll often hear about speechwriting. Telling a story—and telling it well—can be a key to connecting with your audience, and making your message memorable. What you won't hear as often is how to tell that story, and how to tell it really,...

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Public speaking and speechwriting: the essential guides

(photo of books with text) Leadership communications: the essential guides

Looking for advice on public speaking, speechwriting and leadership communications? Here are some of my most comprehensive posts, on topics that people ask me about most often.

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