Perhaps the most important aspect of writing a speech is crafting a clear message. The goal of a speech isn’t to impress people with how well you can write — it’s to get across the point you are trying to make. But what is the key message? Frequently there are several. Which one do you really want to focus attention on? Which message do you want to build the most quotable soundbite around; which point do you want to build up to, and build the speech around? Read
As I write, Mr. Obama has just finished delivering his first State of the Union Address. We can debate the policies later, but for style, I felt he missed a key grace note of leadership. Over and over he used the word “I”. But the essential word of leadership is “we”. Nothing is about me. Everything is about us, the people, whom I, the leader, serve.
There are few places where the challenge of public speaking is more apparent than at a wedding. The topic is – at the same time – personal and predictable. And the trend today to start from scratch, write your own vows, “personalize” the ceremony, often comes out sounding awkward and strained.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by what I encountered at a wedding I attended over the weekend. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, the couple relied on some tried-and-true words to help communicate their feelings.
Returning to a favorite book, movie, poem, or, in the case of this New York City wedding, Broadway musical, to get your point across is a sure way to write a great speech and also add a personal touch.
While they eliminated the song and dance, the couple read the back-and-forth exchange in “Bosom Buddies,” a song from the Broadway musical Mame. It was funny, sentimental, and silly all at once. And most importantly it communicated the message, captured the audience, and best of all reflected the couple.
Too often nuptials leave little to the imagination. There’s no better time than a wedding to rely on the tradition of old, new, borrowed, and blue.