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The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One--How to Deliver It Paperback – October 5, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM; 1 Ed edition (October 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814470548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814470541
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[Dowis]...provides refreshing...insights, peppered with dry humor, about how [to] create and present a speech from start to finish." -- Industry Week, February 2000

Book Description

"Splashy slides, confident body language, and a lot of eye contact are fine and well. But if a speech is rambling, illogical, or just plain boring, the impact will be lost. Now everyone can learn to give powerful, on-target speeches that capture an audience's attention and drive home a message. The key is not just in the delivery techniques, but in tapping into the power of language.

Prepared by an award-winning writer, this authoritative speech-writing guide covers every essential element of a great speech, including outlining and organizing, beginning with a bang, making use of action verbs and vivid nouns, and handling questions from the audience. Plus, the book includes excerpts from some of history's most memorable speeches--eloquent words to contemplate and emulate."

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Customer Reviews

It was an excellent blend of information and entertainment.
L. F. Smith
The author walks you step by step through the process of writing a speech to giving it, along with useful tricks of the speech writers trade.
Tracy D. Cooper
It reads like a one-to-one tutorial on public speaking...has something to benefit anyone who must speak in public.
Jusuf Hariman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Mouse Katcher on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a terific book. I own and have read over 700 communication/speech books and this is one of the best. The author gives equal weight to both content, the "what," and delivery, the "how" of the message. He calls this a holistic approach -- and it's right on the mark. He covers the basics -- editing a topic, analyzing the audience, organizing the ideas, and opening and closing with pizzaz. In addition he gives examples of real speeches, from famous and not so famous people to illustrate his points. He also spends a solid amount of time talking about language style and how to achieve "memorability" through specific language tools. The author provides the reader with a checklist for writing, and a list of resources for additional help in crafting a speech. Finally, he spices his discussion of writing a better speech/presentation with practical hints about delivery. In lieu of (or in conjunction with) working with a speech coach one-on-one, this is a book that should be read and re-read by everyone who is serious about improving his or her public communication skills.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By F. Hamilton on October 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Richard Dowis spends no time lamenting this lost art. Instead he focuses his energy on its resurrection.
Dowis's background in journalism and public relations provided the foundation for his writing a remarkably readable book. His conversational style serves as a model for the language you would want to hear -- and use -- in a speech. Frequent headings and an especially legible font also contribute to the book's readability.
In _The Lost Art of the Great Speech_, Dowis addresses every conceivable aspect of this topic -- from deciding whether to accept a speaking engagement to "leveraging" a speech by converting it to one or more publishable articles. The book takes a holistic approach to speech writing. Chapters follow the process of speech preparation, including delivery as well as crafting. In addition, Dowis discusses topics such as how to write a speech to be delivered by someone else and how to introduce a speaker.
Each chapter includes pertinent excerpts from actual speeches, many taken from the business world, and also includes a full speech or a substantial excerpt of a speech by a well-known person. Many of these speeches have historical significance. Having asserted that "reading and listening to speeches is one of the keys to learning how to write and deliver them," Dowis supplies us with many examples to study.
Dowis devotes several chapters to rhetorical devices that can lift a speech from the respectable to the eloquent. To illustrate how rhetoric can immortalize a concept, he compares several versions of an idea that appeared in speeches by famous Americans.
In addition to a detailed index, _The Lost Art of the Great Speech_ includes two helpful appendices: An Editing Checklist for Speech Writers and Resources for Speakers and Speech Writers.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ultimately, what stays with an audience, is the content of your speech. Richard Dowis, a former journalist and retired senior vice president of Manning, Selvage, and Lee Public Relations provides information to help you effectively collect, organize and shape content into powerful speeches. He urges you to consider first the purpose of your speech, what you really want the audience to walk away with. Then, to fit your purpose into the format and time allotted. You must begin by researching your topic, clarifying your purpose, creating an outline and identifying a strong thesis, or unifying idea. When organizing your speech the most important consideration is that it must be logically organized. He identifies several organizational strategies you can use. For example, Chronological order, the "Big Bang" where a shocking thesis is presented up front, and Cause-and-effect which outlines the causes of a problem, describes its effect and suggests a solution. He also provides the following guidance on writing your speech:

1. Begin Well: Your opening should establish rapport with the audience, set the tone, reinforce your credibility and arouse interest in your subject. 5 categories of opening are: novelty, dramatic, question, humorous and reference/quote.

2. Watch Your Language: Avoid Jargon and overly complex language. Try instead for a simple elegance. Be yourself.

3. Use Proven Techniques: The Rule of Three: Organize related thoughts into groups of three to make them more memorable and dramatic. Anaphora: repeat words or phrases at the beginning of several sentences.

4. When using statistics: make them interesting and meaningful, express statistics in terms your audience can understand, and avoid using too many raw figures in a row.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on April 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Before you open your mouth again, open this book. Author Richard Dowis issues a call to oratory greatness in the form of a personal memoir and a professional manual. Citing great contemporary and historical speeches, the book exemplifies some of Dowis' best advice and is more comprehensive than the title indicates. It is a communications guide, ranging from workaday necessities, such as correct word usage, to the "secrets of the pros," incorporating ideas from acknowledged masters. Writing and delivering outstanding speeches is still a pathway to advancement, because good speechwriters and speakers are always in short supply, but this advice reaches beyond speeches and applies to every form of written and oral communication. We [...] recommend that you give a close read to this useful book so that you'll be fully prepared the next time someone asks you to "say a few words."
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