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Simply Speaking: How to Communicate Your Ideas with Style, Substance, and Clarity Hardcover – January 20, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0060392123 ISBN-10: 0060392126 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Noonan (What I Saw at the Revolution), George Bush's most publicized speechwriter, describes her book accurately as "advice and anecdotes about the writing and giving of speeches." Not political speeches, which are probably an art form unto themselves, but the kind of speeches most people are at some time called upon to deliver. Noonan states her advice clearly: No speech should last more than 20 minutes; the text should be written out (no ad-libbing from outlines); humor is essential; read your draft speech aloud (speaking is different from writing); keep sentences short (the audience is hearing it, not reading it). One section deals with the special requirements of writing for other people. Shorter sections deal with situations such as toasts, tributes and eulogies. There are also tips on handling questions, walking up to the platform and meeting the audience afterward. The anecdotes deal chiefly with Noonan's adventures on the political circuit and in the White House with Presidents Reagan and Bush and are the fluffy sort of things the author herself probably uses facing audiences. The advice is practical and fairly obvious, but if speaking in public is indeed most people's Number One Fear, this is a calming, logical and sometimes entertaining guide.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Noonan, author of the best-selling What I Saw at the Revolution (LJ 3/15/90), presents a guide to communication that succeeds because of the entertaining and informative anecdotes drawn from her experience as a speech writer for presidents Reagan and Bush. She provides good, basic, but not original advice?keep speeches to 20 minutes, use plain language, incorporate humor, and, most important, be sincere. The author includes insightful commentary on Earl Spencer's eulogy for his sister, Princess Diana; President Clinton's oratory, which she faults for its reliance on cliches and for its emphasis on style rather than substance; and President Reagan's skill at using speeches to connect with the public. Recommended for public libraries, especially as an overview of presidential speechmaking.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (January 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060392126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060392123
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

She says have something to say and say it the way you need to say it.
"ronlv"
What I loved best about Peggy's book is the delightful conversational style in which she writes which makes for an entertaining "how-to" read.
Lorna Goodman
Being a minor political junkie, I enjoyed this book more than my 2 star rating might indicate.
Jeffrey D Purtee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By N. Cardon on September 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ms. Noonan is among the most eloquent people I have come across in modern times. Quick-witted and intelligent, she uses the common tongue to express uncommon ideas. She has written a book that provides a good background for public speaking. She able to draw on her long experience as a speechwriter to enable her pupils to understand the challenges of both writing and giving speeches. Moreover, Ms. Noonan is so good with words that I would read that book if had no concern with speechmaking.
Read this book, you will enjoy it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bunson Honeydew VINE VOICE on September 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved reading this book - Ms. Noonan kept the momentum flowing. This is a very good introduction for people who are nervous about public speaking and/or speech writing. Ms. Noonan gives some insights and "how to's" about a person and/or topic. We must learn about what works for a person and what will not. Some of this is not earth shattering, however we can enhance our knowledge through her real life examples. Peggy points out that we should develop our own style, and we should avoid imitating other people's styles. Ms. Noonan also recommends that we use of humor in the right situations, never speak in a style above us, and avoid industry jargon.
I frequently give seminars for my company, and I am a president of a non-profit group. I found the ideas and suggestions extremely useful in enhancing my presentation skills.
There are a lot of Ronald Reagan examples/case studies, which I enjoyed because I am a huge Reagan fan. To me this was an added bonus.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "helganpaul" on December 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you're a speech writer or a person who is often called upon to speak in public, you'll find this slim volume full of nice advice. I liked best the sections that featured passages from some of the memorable speeches Ms. Noonan has written for others. Maybe it's time for a collection of her writings from Time, the Wall Street Journal, as well as complete texts of her classic speeches? Publishers & editors should look into this.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "ronlv" on October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books to read when you have decided to become good at public speaking. She says have something to say and say it the way you need to say it. Then work at making it interesting to see for the audience. If you don't have something interesting then you are giving the wrong speech. The great achievement is become the speaker you want to be. Help the audience to understand that you are speaking the truth. Author's real life stories are excellent. She was speech writer to Presidents Reagan and Bush. Despite all the good things that Toastmaster's International does, it does not advise its new members give the speech you what to give. Don't copy anybody develop you.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lorna Goodman on June 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I loved best about Peggy's book is the delightful conversational style in which she writes which makes for an entertaining "how-to" read. I learned as much about people and history as I did about speech writing. Who says learning has to be dry or boring? A great book to expand a liberal arts education and improve your writing skills.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jenny on August 13, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
I listened to the audio tape to this book...even better and easier than reading the book. I found Peggy Noonan's style both easy to understand and clear...she is living proof on how speeches should be delivered.Her voice and manner are calm, confident and inspirational.
The message is strong and one part that certainly sticks in my mind was "tell your audience what you're going to tell them...tell them and then tell them what you told them" I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in a position where they have to give speeches frequently or in a one off situation.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "justicewriter" on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Whether you are standing up in front of a joint session of Congress or a sub-committee of your local PTF, this book is a great resource.
Noonan knows of which she writes, having written speeches for the Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan. The stories of working side by side with Reagan were a high point of the book, at least for this Republican reader.
Ultimately, the strength of this work, though is the practical advice she gives to every speaker. This is a nuts-and-bolts manuel to writing and delivering a speech. It's also an easy, quick read, the kind you can refer back to for years.
An excellent resource for anyone who has to stand up in front of people and talk!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Conor Cunneen on April 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Better know today as a conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan also has a very strong pedigree as a political speech-writer for George H. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

In Simply Speaking she outlines very simply and coherently the basic rules of good speech writing and communication. As with most of the good books written on speech writing you are not likely to find major new insights. You will however find the key elements she addresses well illustrated with relevant speeches - many of which, by the way, she helped draft e.g. George H. Bush's acceptance speech at the Republican convention 1988 and Ronald Reagan's fortieth anniversary D-Day speech at Pointe du Hoc. Noonan goes through the speeches in detail, helping the reader to better appreciate the context and genesis for the respective speeches.

Noonan suggestions include:

A speech should never be more than twenty minutes.

Write the text out.

Humor is essential.

Sentences should be short and simple.

The book is a bit limited in that the author constantly returns to Reagan and his oratorical style but other speeches that Noonan quotes in a worthwhile book include Christopher Reeve's speech at the 1996 Democratic convention, John F Kennedy's Inaugural, Bill Clinton's Inaugural - which she pans and Mother Teresa's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast which reads well, but it was this amazing nun's presence and credibility which truly impacted the room.

I return to this book reasonably often because it is interesting and hits the key points for a speaker. But, the book could benefit from a good checklist and summary of key points. Noonan also shows her political colors too much in a book about speech writing.
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