Speech writing

I have to give a speech on Saturday night before 200 people. It’s a happy occasion, a friendly audience, half of whom I know very well. The occasion is auspicious and I’m one of several speakers.

My mission: to speak for three to five minutes, find some material guaranteed not to be worked over by the other speakers, make em laugh, make em think. Powerpoint is not an option. I’d like to show some photos in a slideshow, but that probably won’t happen.
I used to wing my speeches off of a couple index cards, being more comfortable when I’m extemporaneous, but this one is so short that it feels like a haiku more than a full-blown presentation. Do I memorize it? Do I bullet the key points and memorize the best one-liners?

Someone, I believe it was Lincoln, said the hardest speech he had to write was the shortest — perhaps in reference to the Gettysburg Address. The myth is that he wrote that two to three minute masterpiece of oration on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg when in fact there are five known drafts which he shared with his closest advisors.

I’ll post the draft after I finish it. Right now it is 1,300 words. Lincoln delivered fewer than 300 at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Speech writing”

  1. I once traded email with Joel of Joel on Software. I said something like, “PeopleWare isa fantastic book, and a great value despite the fact it is so short.”

    He immediately wrote back that we should be willing to pay MORE for a book with fewer words and the same information. We are conditioned, esp in America, to equate size with value, when in fact cutting is the single most important thing one can do to improve quality. Usually.

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