Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Best Public Speaking Articles: Weekly Review [2009-01-24]

Week In ReviewOn Saturdays, we survey the best public speaking articles from throughout the public speaking blogosphere.

This week’s review features topics including:

  • Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”;
  • Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech;
  • importance of simplicity and brevity;
  • personalizing your message for each crowd; and
  • careers as a speechwriter or ghostwriter.

Six Minutes

Week in Review: Six Minutes

Three feature articles mirrored the buzz in a great week for communication in the news:

  1. Speech Analysis: I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
    In honor of Martin Luther King Day earlier this week, I did a comprehensive review of the speechwriting magic exhibited King’s most famous speech.
  2. Speech Analysis: Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech
    What a week! Another comprehensive review of speechwriting lessons provided by a master communicator.
  3. Experts Weigh In: Analysis and Opinions of Obama’s Inauguration Speech
    A review of the 18 different inauguration opinions.

Week in Review: Public Speaking Blogosphere


  • Siegel+Gale conducted a study which demonstrates the power of simplicity in persuasive communications. Remember this when you are writing your next speech… simple language is better.

The survey asked how much of an impact jargon-free, plain-English explanations and disclosures would make on consumer interest in a number of categories. Consumers reported:

  • a 79% increased interest in investing in a financial product,
  • a 73% increased interest in selecting a broker or a financial advisor,
  • a 67% increased interest in purchasing a life insurance policy,
  • a 63% increased interest in taking out a loan, and
  • a 63% increased interest in applying for a credit card.
  • Lisa Braithwaite reminds us to edit wisely instead of trying to fit everything in.

You don’t have to share everything you know. Pick the most critical and valuable main points that your audience would want and need, and stick with those.

Delivery Techniques

  • Holly Buchanan praises President Obama’s ability to  personalize his delivery style to each crowd, a speaking skill that is critical to connecting with any audience.

In the Neighborhood Ball, he talked about the importance of neighbors, and community, and his community organizer days.

In the Commander-In-Chief Ball – his whole demeanor changed as he joked with the troops on satellite, asking “Cubs or White Sox?” […]

At the Youth Ball, he used language like “old school” when referring to this dancing style, and ended with “thank you guys” – a much more informal ending than some other balls.

  • Jason Peck concludes that it’s easy to read aloud (e.g. a poem or short story).

Whether you’re reading from a play or a novel make sure that you are really familiar with it so that you don’t need to refer to it. If you get lost then you know exactly where you are in the text and can carry on.

Speaker Habits

  • Dan Hodgson interviews Brian Jenner [podcast] about his career as a speechwriter.
    I particularly like the comparison drawn between speechwriting and washing clothes a couple minutes in.
  • Marty Nemko provides a primer on a career as a ghostwriter. (The focus of the article is not speechwriting, but the basic principles apply.)

[T]o be a professional writer, you must write powerfully and quickly-those with writer’s block need not apply. Ghostwriters also must be excellent interviewers, able to unearth the factual and emotional nuggets that lie within your client. Too, you must be able to capture your client’s voice and, often, to gracefully accept their seemingly foolish edits.

  • James Feudo questions whether it’s okay to begin speaking with “thank you.”

I’ve heard […] good speakers tell other people that they should never open their speech with “Thanks, it’s nice to be here” […]. I’ve asked […] why they feel so strongly about it and have yet to receive what I consider a satisfactory answer – a giveaway that I might have a myth on my hands.

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Find more helpful public speaking articles in previous weekend reviews which are published regularly on Six Minutes.
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