Our Observations

30th Anniversary Edition of “How to Write & Give a Speech” Released

Speech expert Joan Detz takes five questions on the re-release of her popular book, "How to Write & Give a Speech," originally published 30 years ago. The new version, available now, identifies critical tools and skills that speechwriters and presenters need.

Q. Congratulations on the 30th anniversary of your book, "How to Write & Give a Speech." Has much changed for speechwriters and presenters during that time, or does the advice you gave back then still apply? 

A. One thing remains the same: A good speech can help make a career, and a bad speech can help break a career.

Q. Our clients are in the nonprofit, association, foundation and government sectors. How can leaders in these areas use the podium more effectively to deliver their message and inspire action? 

A. I do a lot of speaker coaching with nonprofits, associations, foundations and government sectors (at federal, state, local levels).  My advice to the leaders at these organizations?  Speak as much as you can, and do it as effectively as you can.  Remember:  You never get a second chance to re-do a speech!  You can’t un-do a mediocre presentation.  You can’t make audiences forget a boring speech.  So:  Work on your presentation skills.  Commit to public speaking excellence.  Think of presentations as “free advertising” – an incredibly powerful way to connect with your key constituencies, boost your brand, and build your reputation.

Q. You've written other books, including "It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It," and "Can You Say a Few Words?" What is it about public speaking that makes these kinds of books so popular and necessary? 

A. We all have to talk – in meetings, on conference calls, at community events, via Skype, via PowerPoint presentations, on sales calls, at conferences and at conventions.  Public speaking books are popular because we instinctively know public speaking success also means career success. 

Q. You hold workshops and seminars across the country, work with government officials and business executives and, based on my own personal experience, really help to break down speech components and delivery. How did you get into this line of work and what keeps you motivated? 

A. I got started on Madison Avenue – researching speeches on the “I Love New York” campaign.  I was hooked on speechwriting and public speaking from the get-go.  I’m still hooked by the sheer power that can come from one person giving a speech.  One good presentation can make a profound difference.  Good speeches are empowering – for the speaker and for the audiences, too.

Q. What's the next chapter in the public speaking industry? And what's next for Joan Detz? 

A. The next chapter in the public speaking industry will come when organizations realize the business value that good speeches can produce.  What’s next for me?  I’m expanding my consulting business – taking my speechwriting workshops to organizations throughout the U.S. and offering speaker coaching around the world.  I’ve worked from Helsinki to Chicago, from London to Atlanta, from Podgorica to DC.  Public speaking crosses borders.  And everywhere I go, I find leaders who want to shape their organization’s future – one good speech at a time.

(Learn more about Joan Detz at her blog.)

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