Baby, it's cold outside...

Canada is caught in the grips of a deep freeze. So what better time to stay “next to the fire”, at least figuratively, and read a good book? If you write and/or deliver speeches and presentations, here are three great choices. All of them are available in hard copy and ebook format too. Read More...

Three Tips For Clear Communication

The world is awash in bad writing says a renowned linguist, and the reason for it is simple. People misjudge the gap between what they know about a topic and what their readers or listeners understand. In his recent book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide To Writing In The 21st Century, Harvard professor Steven Pinker describes how “the curse of knowledge” can obscure communication.

Bad writing creeps into speeches and presentations in the form of bureaucratese, legalese, corporate speak and other specialty dialects. A big part of a wordsmith’s job then is to express complex and arcane words and ideas in clear language. And that can be a challenge when you're really close to the subject or you have to work from documents written for an internal audience.

So, take these three steps to ward off the curse of knowledge when you prepare your next speech or presentation. Read More...

Three Apps for the Tech Savvy Writer

Do you reach for the same old tools every time you start to pull together a speech or presentation? Many of us routinely turn to Word and PowerPoint, or, in the case of Mac users, Pages and Keynote. Yet, the marketplace offers lots of other terrific options for researching, writing, editing and presenting a talk.
Whether you work on a PC or a Mac, check out these three free or low-cost apps. They'll help you save time and effort and even make your job more fun. Read More...

Don't Let Weird Al Steer You Wrong

Weird Al Yankovic is on the charts again with a clever parody of a hit song. In Word Crimes, he pokes fun at people's texting habits. Plus, he dispenses a little grammar and punctuation advice. If you write speeches and presentation scripts, enjoy the song, but be careful about taking Weird Al's advice. Here’s why. The way we talk and the way we write for the page, or computer screen are different. So, the last thing you should worry about is whether words destined to be spoken look good in print or pixels. Read More...

Is it a bird, a plane, or....a speechwriter?

Barbie Tootle. With a name like that she has to be fun. And true to form, Barbie's TEDx Talk on speechwriting is a romp through the subject. Like a wordsmith should, she makes her point early. Barbie wants people to know that speechwriting is more than an art; it involves some magic too. And, to show she's serious, she opens a briefcase, pulls out a silver cape and puts it on with panache. Read More...

Where there's smoke let there be fire

Few sights are more dramatic than red hot lava rising up from an active volcano. At least that’s what I thought while I hovered in a helicopter and watched molten rock ooze from a vent on the island of Hawaii last winter. Surrounding the vent was a huge swath of what looked like crumpled asphalt. Yet, here and there plumes of smoke wafted up, providing proof that red hot lava still flowed beneath the dull layer of rock.

Although I didn’t appreciate it in the heat of the moment (pardon the pun), that scene offers a good analogy for how to construct a speech or presentation to keep it interesting and engaging from beginning to end. Read More...

Bumped from the calendar...again? No worries, you can still succeed

“Sorry, I'll have to cancel our meeting today. Maybe I can clear a few minutes tomorrow.” Getting access to a speaker is the bane of many a speech and presentation writer’s existence. Senior managers and leaders are busy people with lots of demands on their time. Sadly that situation often leaves scribes scratching dates off the calendar. It’s no wonder then that the question I’m asked most often is: how can you write for someone when you never get to meet with them?

Writing with little or no access to the speaker is a challenge. But, it’s far from impossible. And, it doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. You can learn a lot about a speaker and do good work for them without ever exchanging a word. All it takes is some imagination and a bit of detective work. Read More...

Think beyond your message - don't just mail it in

As the pace picks up at the beginning of the new year, it's easy to fall back on the same old communications strategies and tactics. So, now is a good time to remind yourself that it isn't enough just to aim to deliver a message, you have to do it in a way that connects with people and keeps them interested. Here are a few tips that will keep audiences listening from the start to finish of any speech or presentation. Read More...