Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deadly Sins of Speechwriting

In 2001 Fletcher Dean wrote and gave an outstanding speech on The Seven Deadly Sins of Speechwriting at the annual Speechwriters Conference in Washington, D.C.

Before he gets to his own list of seven he mentions emailing several colleagues asking their opinions on the deadliest sins. Charles Francis said there was just one sin - writing a speech that the audience won’t listen to (and repeat that six more times). Another colleague said the deadliest sin just was having more than two or three main points, so seven was way too many.

Nevertheless, Fletcher came up with the following list of sins:

1. Mismanaging the speaking schedule

2. Failing to do the audience research

3. Giving ownership of the speech process to anyone else

4. Favoring A/V material (e.g. PowerPoint) over content

5. Forgetting that the audience has emotions

6. Sloth (lack of variety and editing)

7. Pride (intense craving for applause and admiration)

Fletcher Dean writes the Speechwriting 2.0 blog. He won the 2008 Cicero speechwriting grand award for Working Toward a New Industrial Policy. In 2010 he won an honorable mention in the Public Policy category for The Path Forward on Climate Change.

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