Friday, June 10, 2011

Around the Word

In closing. . . . don't be close-minded: Speechwriting is often a balance between distinguishing originality and respecting convention, and David Murray of Vital Speeches of the Day today has some wise warnings about avoiding the trap of the latter. It's understandable for the the President to always ends the State of the Union by asking God to bless America as a matter of tradition and ceremony. But sometimes it pays to take the less chosen closing, Murray notes. Take the example of Mamata Banjeree, the newly elected Chief Minister of Bengal, India, who concluded her recent victory speech with these refreshingly unorthodox words: "People who have gathered since this morning, please go home, rest, and take a bath." You know what? It works, Murray says. "If the last lines of speeches are ceremonial... the equivalent of 'amen'... then at least infuse them with good advice." What's the most unorthodox way you've ever ended a speech?

Is corporate journalist the new jumbo shrimp?: Though it might seem strange for journos and CEOs to be joining forces, freelancing pro Nic Wertz wisely advises fellow reporters -- especially the newly liberated -- to get used to the idea. In a featured blog post on Ragan this week, Wertz explains why we can expect more and more journalists to split their time creating corporate content in the future -- and why that shouldn't cause ethical anxiety for reporters. To the contrary, Wertz argues freelancers should see it as an opportunity to leverage their top skills -- researching, writing and multi-platform production -- in a different sector and diversify their income. 

Saying "sayonara" with style: Be careful when dissing a writer -- they're likely to retaliate with a pen mightier than the sword. With writers being laid off left and right, Slate has curated a few of the best "thanks for nothing" letters from writers and journalists who have been fired (or resigned) recently. Our favorite? When Richard Morgan left Gawker after one day, he quit with this quip: "Jesus spent three days in Hell. . . . I could only handle one."

Triumphing over the technical: We all know that presenting gobs of technical data in a speech or paper can be deathly boring. On his Public Words blog, Nick Morgan offers a few helpful hints for writers on preventing your tech from drowning in dreck. His favorite strategies include using vivid metaphors and analogies and staying focused on audience persuasion. If all else fails you can always turn your presentation into a contest, as Morgan did with a public speaking class he taught at Princeton. He transformed the class into a Jeopardy contest and his students woke right up, though he's quick to add, "Do remember to give out prizes."

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