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10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech: The Definitive Guide to Professional Speechwriting Paperback – October 17, 2011
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About the Author
Fletcher Dean is an award-winning writer of speeches and articles for a variety of business, educational and motivational speakers. He’s a five-time presenter at the Annual Speechwriting Conference in Washington, D.C., a three-time recipient of the Award of Excellence for Speechwriting from the Public Relations Society of America and the winner of three Gold Medals from the Cicero Speechwriting Awards. Most recently, he was honored with the Cicero Grand Prize honoring the best speech of 2008.
Fletcher has more than 20 years experience as a communications professional. He has managed Internal and External communications functions and served as the company spokesperson at a Fortune 500 company and is a certified Crisis Communication Expert. As a speechwriter, annual report writer, journalist and teacher, Fletcher has written on a broad range of subjects and in a variety of forums. From the National Press Club to the CEO Club of Boston and from Washington to China, his speeches have helped executives and business leaders deliver their ideas to audiences around the world. Those speeches have been reprinted in such prestigious journals as Vital Speeches of the Day (13 times), Executive Speeches, Speechwriter’s Newsletter and Executive Excellence. In addition, he’s spoken before such groups as the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Public Relations Society of America, and the Association of Administrative Professionals.
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Dean has a wealth of experience on speechwriting, and he shares his knowledge generously. He walks the reader step by step through the logical process that goes into a successful speech---from the audience analysis to the final walk through of the room before delivery. Anyone in the business of preparing and delivering speeches owes Fletcher a debt of gratitude for providing handy frameworks and checklists that are sure to impress executives and other leaders who employ speechwriters.
Along with the tips and tricks, the book offers a lively mix of old fashioned rhetorical wisdom and contemporary methods to inspire audiences and cut through media clutter. Fletcher leaves his reader with a complete understanding of the unique format of rhetoric. His description of Monroe's Motivated Sequence is especially useful for anyone trying to persuade an audience. He also makes a compelling case for the power of stories and the need for an emotional impact---not just an intellectual argument---to motivate the audience to act.
Dean's book comes out at a time of rapid changes in leadership communications. With YouTube, people now download speeches in their entirety. What does this mean? A vast library of video and audio speeches is just a mouse click away, available for free. And many go viral. Gaffes now gain widespread and instant attention. Brilliant speeches like Steve Jobs commencement are viewed by millions. Mass media are no longer gatekeepers, filtering rhetoric down to sound bites for the evening news. If you want context, you can now get it. We have the power.
The traditional 20 minute speech at a podium that Dean describes is the standard for political communication. As the reach and influence of the federal government grows so too does the demand for political speechwriters. Dean's book will no doubt be useful to the growing ranks of writers hired to articulate the goals and actions of our nation's vast bureaucracy.
Things are different in the private sector. The solo keynote speech is a vanishing breed--not yet extinct but endangered. Big time forums want a conversational tone, which means fireside chats or moderated conversations. Audiences like a lively exchange of views and a chance to directly engage the speakers. Executives also like this format too. They don't have to prepare a formal script, and they can get straight to the point of their message.
Should business leaders be more like public officials and hold forth on matters of public policy? Probably. But in our Occupy Wall Street age when big business is often vilified, taking a strong stand on a controversial issue is a risky proposition. So many executives just stay quiet. Or else they tone down their message, and their speech loses impact.
Is rhetoric a lost art in the business world? Not yet. Most business leaders are in their comfort zone imparting information. This role is a job requirement for leaders as they inform investors and other stakeholders on a regular basis. They know how to stand up in front of a group and make a good impression. But there's more to great rhetoric, and Dean shows how the process is supposed to work.
A vital speech requires getting across a big idea and leaving your audience moved to act. Speakers who want to stand apart from the crowd and demonstrate leadership will benefit from How to Write a Vital Speech.
Boe Workman --CEO Communications Director, AARP
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