Rob’s blog

Communicators, it’s time to end audience abuse.

Audience abuse comes in many forms. It happens in speeches. An unprepared speaker who just can't communicate. A bait-and-switch session that doesn't deliver what it promised. A speaker who spends their time pitching themselves. A speaker who leaves you cheering......

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A speechwriting lesson from House of Cards

I'm (finally) watching the convention episode ("Chapter 48") of season 4 of House of Cards. And early on, there's a great exchange between a new speechwriter and the pair of writers who've been with the Underwoods from the beginning. They complain about his...

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Speaker as performer: Michael Port’s “Steal the Show”

When I coach speakers, there are many moments that feel like breakthroughs. When they show a little vulnerability, and share something of themselves. Or when they internalize the text of a speech well enough to hit every point effortlessly. But few moments give me the...

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Writing to be heard: a key to speechwriting

Wil Wheaton recently posted something to Medium, and it's well worth reading on its own merits. But one passage jumped out at me in particular, and it's one crucial key to speechwriting: Please note that I wrote this to be spoken/performed, and it may not translate...

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Will Donald Trump kill speechwriting? (Spoiler: no.)

A few months before the GOP convention, the leading contender for the party's presidential nomination is Donald Trump: a man who draws huge, rapturous crowds... yet delivers long, rambling speeches that are apparently entirely off the cuff. Now, let's be clear:...

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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

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

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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