Speechwriting: 10 lessons learned in 10 years—that you can learn in just 30 minutes

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What You’ll Learn:: 

Do you praise your audience? All it takes is a little research—for example, noting it’s the 70th anniversary of the organization your speaker is addressing, or that your speaker has a personal connection to the audience.

This tip is one of 10 offered by Nate Osburn, director of speechwriting at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In an address to fellow speechwriters, Osburn offers specific tips you can pocket and use right away.

The practical pointers you'll take away from this session include:

  • Why you can't overpraise your audience—and how to do it effectively
  • Creative ways to use bookends on a speech
  • How to build effective relationships with the experts in your organization
  • Why it's critical to attend the daily and weekly senior staff meetings

Define the goal upfront—and type it at the top of your speech as you’re writing it. When you know what your speaker is trying to accomplish, you will nail the speech. And while you’re at it: Leave the goal at the top when you give the completed speech to your speaker.

From “Focus on the flow” to “Take it all in,” you’ll gather nuggets for your speech—and you’ll even find out how a high-school essay-writing template works for structuring your speech.

Find out what it means to ask for access, and why you simply must study harder. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, you will find Osburn’s session invaluable.

Learn about these and other speechwriting tactics with a subscription to Ragan Training.

February 2014

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Presenter bio: 

Nathan Osburn

Nate Osburn has served as director of speechwriting at the U.S. Department of Commerce since 2012. Before that, he was the senior speechwriter at the U.S. Small Business Administration, starting in 2009. His experience includes speechwriting and executive communications for leaders at the U.C. Davis Health System, the American Medical Association and the Federal Aviation Administration. He holds a master's degree with an emphasis in strategic communications from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.