Monday, September 27, 2010

Around the Word: The Age of Eloquence

Today we're hosting a field day for speechwriters, with words of wisdom from seasoned rhetoricians:
  • Public speaking—the world's "oldest art"—is alive and well today.  David Murray, editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, discusses the current state of speechmaking, arguing that public speeches remain an elegant and compelling form of mass communication.  Speeches may inspire or educate, and, most crucially, are part of "living history."  Murray's goal of keeping Vital Speeches current has led to some eyebrow-raising inclusions, such as Tiger Woods's public apology.  How would you define a "vital" speech? Have you heard any orations recently that seized your interest?
  • Speechwriting has deep roots.  Political speechwriter Dan Conley travels to ancient Greece to trace the philosophic foundations of speechmaking.  Both philosophy and speechwriting draw on the art of rhetoric and require the intellectual courage to synthesize information and draw persuasive conclusions.  Specialization has sundered the two disciplines, but Conley believes practitioners of both fields might learn something by taking a page from each other's books.
  • Freelancers thrive on independence, but what about the sweetness of a fruitful creative collaboration?  While composing a talk on cooperation and diversity, speechwriter Cynthia Starks found that multiple cooks can spice up the broth.  She worked closely with the client to generate and refine content, fielding suggestions from different departments in the firm and seeking advice from fellow speechwriters.  The result was a stronger speech tailored to the client's purposes.  We ask our freelancing friends: have you collaborated on a project recently?  When do outside voices help, and when would you prefer to go it alone?

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