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on May 11, 2000
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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on October 2, 2002
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.
_The Lost Art of the Great Speech_ is a valuable resource for anyone who might have the opportunity to address a group of people. Although it does not include study questions or practice exercises, it would be an excellent book for a class of high school or college students as well as for adults who are studying independently.
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on January 26, 2006
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.

5. Closing the Speech: use your closing to reinforce your point, or to reinforce the goal of the speech. Most closings fall into seven categories: Summary, Wrap-up, Direct appeal, Thesis, Reference, Inspirational, and Humorous/Anecdotal.

6. Editing: When editing consider content, organization, style, language and grammar.
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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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on August 9, 2001
Although this book was written for business folk, it serves as a tremendous text for high school students. The suggestions are clear, the models exemplary, and the writing concise. Also, the texts of speeches that end nearly every chapter are well-chosen. AND there's a handy appendix listing resources for speakers and writers.
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on September 8, 2005
I originally checked this out at the library and realized I needed it in my reference collection. It's well writen, informative and fun to read. 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. I highly recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon July 5, 2011
I've been involved in public speaking for a long time: I spent four years on my college debate team, I coached high school debate for fifteen years, I've presented dozens of staff development workshops over the years, and I'm a Distinguished Toastmaster. However, the most interesting thing I've learned about public speaking is that there's always more to learn. This book taught me a lot.

The book's subtitle says that its purpose is to help speakers create great speeches: "How to Write One. How to Deliver It." I think the book accomplishes that goal. Each of the seventeen chapters discusses some element of speaking-- outlining, using statistics, practicing the speech, etc.-- and then offers an one or two examples of famous speeches that illustrate the subject. The result is a series of practical lessons about speaking, which combine into a sort of survey course.

It works very well. The author is a very experienced speech writer, so he's authoritative. However, he's always careful to point out that anything he says has to be considered in light of the particular circumstances of the speech. One size does not fit all.

I really liked this book. It was an excellent blend of information and entertainment. I recommend it most highly.
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on May 4, 2001
For those of you who don't like text book reads but need the information, this is the book for you. This book gives useful information and useful hints on speech writing and speech giving. It is the best of Speech Communication classes and everyday ideas for the beginner in public speaking and the expert speech writer.
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on April 21, 2014
On the cover is a great painting. After a great speech, three men are in each others arms and appear to be saying, ''He has swept everyone to his side. What can we do to stop him?'' A sitting man appears to be thinking, ''If he is right, then we are wrong!'' A fifth leaves in anger. 100 people toss their hats and cheer. We have all heard a speech that made us think and changed us.

This book gives a great basic understanding of how to go in that direction.
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on August 6, 2015
John F. Kennedy said of Winston Churchill, "He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle." With "The Lost Art of the Great Speech", Author Richard Dowis has written the strategy for the entire war. This book delivers much more content than one can digest at one or even two readings. You can tell that Dowis believes that speech has the power to change the world. This must have been forged in his earlier days when writing for marketing and public relations.

He certainly does not hold back on valuable content. The book is populated with checklists, helpful quotes, copious examples and historic speeches made relevant through the author's analysis. This last feature was a bit draggy for me proving that it is impossible to please everyone in speech or in a book. Nevertheless, there is amazing material here told with passion. Dowis shares long helpful tracts and quick bon mots:

- Self confidence is essential
- A good speech relies on anecdotes and human-interest examples to carry its message
- A strong speech or presentation entertains, informs and inspires

It should be noted that "speech" is synonymous with "presentation" within the book. That is why I recommend it for anyone in business. You will find application for every manner of presentation whether it be at a conference, sales pitch, or employee town hall. I have spoken at over 115 events in more than 20 countries and I always learn something new each time. I expect this book will become a much thumbed reference guide as I strive to entertain, inform and inspire audiences.
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