Monday, January 31, 2005

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Handout: Our Writing So Far: Some Common Problems and Specific Suggestions


80-90% of the time, an extemporaneous speech is better than a manuscript speech.

Hierarchy of speech quality (Bucket Analogy):

Worst is a Bad Extemporaneous speech, which can be improved by composing a manuscript (10% of speeches given). Then comes a Bad Manuscript. (40%). A Good Extemporaneous speech is next best. It is worth it to learn to write a good Manuscript, because those speeches can be the best; they require the right time, place, topic, audience, and speaker.

Advantages of manuscripts:

1) Eloquence
2) Precision
3) Efficiency
4) Predictability
5) Accuracy
6) Nuance
7) Symbolic Value – Caring (a speaker can show he or she cares by using notes – Cher said that her speech at Sonny Bono’s funeral was so important she had to write it down)
8) Institutionalizing (Before Delivery) – set the stage for the speech, advance its purpose, get buy-in.
9) After-Life (a manuscript is communicable through more channels than an extemporaneous speech after it is delivered)
10) Confidence

Why More Professional Speechwriters:

1) Growing Complexity of Subject Matter
2) Growing Complexity and Multiplicity of Audiences
3) Speakers have less time to write
4) Speaker are less expert on many topics
5) Audiences spoiled – exposed to best writers
6) Audiences Overwhelmed by Information Glut (Need to Cut through Clutter)
7) Speeches wear out quicker
8) More Speeches being given
9) Writing skills generally in decline
10) Proactive Needs: “Strategic Speechwriting” – scheduling, selecting the audience, fitting the speech into a larger strategy

What makes a good manuscript speech?

Speechwriting is an art form, distinct from other kinds of writing. Writing for the ear is very different from writing for the eye, a “different language”.

3 Reasons why the Ear is different than the Eye:

1) The Ear is slower than the mouth
2) The ear has a lousy memory – rhyming an rhythmic music and poetry is the exception – speechwriting should be about music, poetry, and pictures.
3) The ear cannot pause, rewind, or fast forward

No, “In one eye and out the other”, or “I can hear it in my mind’s ear”

The Ear:

1) Slow
2) Forgetful
3) Passive

To manage the ear, use the following:

1) Partitioning (Organization)
2) Pace
3) Pictures
4) Poetry – music, rhythm, sound

Monday, January 24, 2005

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Viewing the 2005 Inaugural Address:

There is one force of history…the force of human freedom. No human rights without human liberty. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you. “Untamed Fire” of freedom…Day of Fire, the enemy’s weapon. Fire vs. Fire…(a phrase/concept that resonates with the Muslim world)

The survival of liberty in our land depends on the survival of liberty in other lands.

No one is fit to be a master; no one deserves to be a slave.

Seek and support the growth of democratic movements in every nation and culture to end tyranny in our world. Not primarily the task of arms…Freedom by its nature must be chosen, sustained by the rule of law. It is the concentrated work of generations…

Freedom is eternally right…we will encourage reform in other governments; success in relations with U.S. will depend on the treatment of their own people.

Americans who do the difficult work of serving in the military add to the country’s character.

Build an “ownership society” – retirement, education; “make every citizen an agent of their own security” the public interest depends on private character.

Bush’s speech was described by a historian as the best speech Wilson ever wrote; Wilson promoted the League of Nations, and making the world safe for democracy. The trademark first line, creating parallels in defining lines of the speech, like, “no one is fit to be a master, no one deserves to be a slave.” He also used chiasmus and alliteration.

Presentation of Fallacies

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Living Room Candidate

This site has a viewable archive and transcripts of Presidential campaign television ads from 1952 to 2004.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Links to Fallacy

An exhaustive list of fallacies -

More detail, and a quiz! -

Monday, January 17, 2005

Chiasmus Website

Saturday, January 15, 2005

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A Radically Audience-Oriented Approach to Writing

According to a recent article about presidential politics, words are what give a president his power. This would not have been true in Napoleon’s time (he was a poor speaker) but in the age of mass media, leadership comes through language. George Bush, though not a good speaker, the language he uses, and even mistakes, may contribute to his appeal, or his tough talk and confident attitude may be the source of his appeal to certain audiences.

Where does the communication take place? What determines whether a piece of communication is good or bad? When the message is delivered, the communication is complete, and can be judged; the communication happens in the mind of the audience.

In Jeff Scott Cook’s The Elements of Speechwriting and Public Speaking, the author says, “Worry less about what you want to put into the head of your audience, and more about what is already there!” In marketing, the approach is to think from the outside in, rather than from the inside out; it’s the idea of seeing things from the audience’s perspective. In film The War Room, the sign on the wall of the Clinton campaign Little Rock HQ said, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”, which kept the campaign narrowly focused on the voters’ perspective.

Lee drew a beaker/chemical mix analogy; to get 3 different solutions to turn red, different chemicals must be added. Different messages must be given to different audiences.

Outside-in, not inside-out. It’s about learning, not teaching. It’s the Audience, Stupid! Know thy Audience.

“I know how you feel” = Empathetic Communication and Rapport

Empathetic communication worked well for Bill Clinton, who felt others’ pain, and Rudolph Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11.

The play was a great success – but the audience was a failure. – Oscar Wilde

Who is the audience? How do we know what is going on in the head of the audience?

We often encounter mixed audiences; Nixon hated to give State of the Union speeches, because he had to deliver to a television audience, and a Washington/government audience. Every government department submits ideas for the President to include in the speech; the speech is often described as a “laundry list”. Nixon gave a written document to Congress, which was the traditional way to deliver the State of the Union, and delivered a speech for the television audience.

Demographics – age, gender, location, income, et al

Sociographics – Qualities of mind and personality, e.g. Myers-Briggs test. This is helpful with a larger audience, because it indicates social status groups. Johnathan Robbins invented Claritas, which breaks the American population into 40 groups.

Psychographics – Breaks groups up into lifestyle/culture choices.

The top speeches of 20th Century:

1) MLK - I have a dream
2) JFK - Ask Not…"chiasmus" used in the famous phrase
3) FDR - Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
4) FDR – Live in Infamy…Pearl Harbor
5) Barbara Jordan 1976 speech to DNC
6) Nixon – “Checkers” speech

Claritas by Zip Code

This site shows what Claritas Groups (e.g. Urban Achievers, Young Digerati) live in any zip code.

Friday, January 07, 2005

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For week 2, begin to read Noonan (course pack 1), since we have yet to receive Elements of Style.
Policy Memo assignment due January 15 (week 2). Write a policy memo about a change you would like to see made at work, a past workplace, or about a public policy issue (a letter to editor). Five double-spaced pages, written to someone at a senior level in the organization about which you’re writing.

Week 3 - Bring a good example of fallacious reasoning from a memo, speech, article, or broadcast, and be prepared to present it in class. The Kahane reading discusses falacy.

What do we mean by "Power"?

To get people to do or think what you want them to do or think. Can be done with force or coercion.


Coercion = Torture, Blackmail/threats, force, bribes/rewards,

Social pressure = symbols of authority (uniforms, badges, titles)

No liberty, total cohesion


Voluntary Assent = inspiration, promise of positive benefits (credibility, trust)

Values = Self Interest

Balance between conformity and liberty

Power is leadership, the few leading the many.

Without leadership, there is anarchy, in which the many do what they want in a totally free environment. The extreme of power/leadershop is the many, unsatisfied because of too many rules; the extreme of anarchy is chaos, absolute liberty.

The instrument of Persasion/Consent power is words.

At the beginning of the 20th century mass media began to rise, and a fear developed that words could be instruments of coercion, the right leader could "hypnotize" the public with words. Could consent be coerced by the right leader? A word developed to describe the misuse of words; propoganda. The Roman Catholic Church developed the college of propoganda after the reformation to spread the faith, but it took on a negative connotation later.

Orwell (Politics and the English Language) suggested that a writer ought to let the meaning find the word, or to start with meaning and choose words carefully to express it, language enables speakers and writers to not think (Noonan suggests that a good speech starts with good ideas).