Articles & More

How to communicate better – and take Friday off.

It’s commonly agreed that employees typically waste a day of every working week through poor communications. Surprised? Don’t be. Just think of all those emails that don’t seem to get to the point (or, for that matter, actually end). Or the talks you’ve yawned through as your mind turned towards your next holiday or round

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Storytelling as a business tool

All businesses have a story. Rarely is it an unmitigated success story. Sometimes it’s a tale of triumph over adversity. Sometimes one of heroic failure. Sometimes one of heroic failure. Occasionally it’s a tragi-comedy bordering on farce. After all, most businesses never make it big. Many fail within a year, leaving their owners with nothing but a story.

The magic of storytelling

Simon and Nina had been so engrossed in their first 82 minutes of parenthood, they barely registered the arrival in the maternity ward of a serene lady wearing a pale blue hooded tunic and waving a sparkling wand. “Well, well.  She is beautiful!” exclaimed the Fairy Godmother. The couple, whose world had been so completely

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How to write your TED talk

How to write your TED talk? I love watching a TED talk. Almost as much as I enjoy writing one! These engaging and informative online ‘speeches’ have given public speaking a new lease of life for the 21st century. They’re short enough to absorb easily, but long enough to be intellectually satisfying. And they’re fantastic

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Political speeches and the art of silence

“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”Winston Churchill Conference season 2023 was notable less for its diverse policy announcements and promises than for something noticeable and widespread across the parties: Silence. SNP Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf brought the UK party conference season to a close. He

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‘Uncaged: From Prison to Purpose’ | Michael Maisey | TEDx

“From growing up traumatised, abused and neglected and left in a cell for 23 hours everyday at the age of 16, Michael shares his story of transformation and what he believes needs to change in our criminal justice system. Michael is the author of “Young Offender” which tells his story of going from armed robber

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The Power of a Promise | Jordan Wylie | TEDx Winchester

“Ideas are two-a-penny. Action isn’t. But some ideas do make it all the way to completion. Jordan Wylie dips into his extraordinary experiences from the military, extreme adventures and as a fundraiser to search for the magic ingredient. Is there a formula to maximise the chances of a good idea coming to fruition? He concludes

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Never explain, never complain: The power of Her Majesty’s silence

This article was published by The Spectator on 3rd June 2022 The Queen’s Christmas message in 2002 was unusual. She explained, briefly, her approach to her role. One could even say that she ‘opened up’: ‘Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only way to live my life is to try to

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Are you guilty of suffocation by slides…or death by bullet point?

As he entered the bar, Alan had rarely felt so energised or prepared.  He’d ironed his favourite laser-blue shirt, showered, shaved and left home wearing just a hint of Paco Rabanne.  Intriguingly, he was holding a laptop. Five minutes later she arrived.  The woman of his dreams.  They hugged a little sheepishly and sat down

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Public speaking lessons from Boris and Daddy Pig

1. Losing your train of thought is many people’s biggest public speaking fear. 2. That’s why I’m a big believer in having a script to hand – if only as a safety net. 3. Boris’ problem was that his speech wasn’t relevant to his audience, it wasn’t clear enough, and he didn’t know it well

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A single tip to help you speak more persuasively

“You know too much about your subject”. No, it’s not something any of us got told too often at school! But when it comes to a big speech or pitch it can be a real issue. That’s because clear, simple, benefit-led messaging will help you speak more persuasively. And too much detail does the very

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Why great business writing is a translation service

We tend to think of translation as a language thing. Translators help us understand what someone is saying in their native tongue. Without their help, all we hear is noise. Business writing shouldn’t need translating in quite the same way. But all too often it is put together in a way that makes it almost

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ESL – A new acronym for appalling communication

The owners behind the #EuropeanSuperLeague have been castigated for their greed, selfishness and lack of understanding. But let’s not forget their completely incompetent communication skills. Great communication ticks three boxes: It’s relevant, it’s clear and, where possible, it’s empathetic. Let’s see how they performed in each area: Relevance This means understanding your audience. Who are

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Why didn’t Katie read Ron’s brilliant report?

Katie Brook is busier than ever. Today, she has to sit-in on six hours of Zoom meetings. By 4pm, her email inbox will have over 100 unread items. She still has an article to write for the industry press, a speech to prepare about the forthcoming ‘return to work’ and some online shopping to do for her

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How to turn your investor deck into a meeting

Daniel’s Story Daniel told me a fascinating story. He lives in England and remains close to his extended family in Ghana. As he earns more, he wants to send regular payments back home. But his grandparents live far from Accra and have no access to a bank. To receive his funds, they need to travel to the City

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We’re all broadcasters now (and need urgent training!)

From a technological perspective, the switch to digital meetings has been pretty seamless.  Zoom, Teams and Google Meet have become the conference rooms of 2020. So why the need for training? We have successfully made the physical transition to working from home.  But observing meetings and conferences since lockdown in many different countries and cultures,

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What makes a good speech great?

On the 80th anniversary of Churchill’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech to Parliament, I was asked this morning on the radio to define what makes a good speech great. There are, of course, any number of reasons. Great soundbites. Brilliant delivery. A perfect structure. All these matter. But ‘great’ means being the right speech

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How to stand out in a crowded email inbox

I’ve unearthed some extraordinary (but unsurprising) stats. A huge proportion of our emails are never opened. Many an email is opened but never read in full. Then there are those that are read, but never responded to. On the flip side, there are the serial emailers, who respond to everything, copying-in others wherever possible. This

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How to get your message across when you’re working from home.

Working from home doesn’t affect your performance. Does it?! You would never have Netflix on in the background while writing a report. Or read-up on some notes in a hot bath. Or pop-out to the shops between calls. Of course not!But I am told that there are some very naughty people (not Linked-In to me,

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PAA. (Please Avoid Acronyms)

“Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn’t we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? ‘Cause of the leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we’d all be put out in K.P.” In ‘Good Morning Vietnam‘, Robin Williams’ character, Adrian Cronauer, made the troops laugh by

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Martin Luther King. Oratory that was beyond a dream

It’s no secret that Martin Luther King spoke with masterful authority. Nor that he developed a commanding, sing-song oratorical style. Nor that his influences were drawn from the Southern Baptist tradition of his native Atlanta to the Ancient Greeks and Mahatma Gandhi. From “the mighty mountains of New York” to “the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado”

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Why we sound boring. And how to fix it!

Remember the teacher who ruined your favourite subject?  The professor whose lectures you always attended, but rarely made it through awake?  The after dinner speech creating raised eyebrows around your table?  They all fell into the trap of not questioning why we sound boring even when we have interesting things to say. We’ve written much

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How NOT to start your office party speech

These aren’t made up.  We’ve just changed some details to protect the innocent.  Each is taken from an office party speech we’ve been sent to review in years gone by. And we’ve suggested that they be removed for reasons that, we assume, don’t require further explanation. “I know we are all here to enjoy ourselves

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Yes You Can! 9 Steps To A Truly Inspiring Motivational Speech

Let me start with a confession.  I can’t tell you exactly how to write the perfect motivational speech.  Despite all the self-help books, the TED talks and the promises on LinkedIn profiles, there is no magic formula.  If there was, every speech would feel the same – and we become inspired by original thinking. That’s

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Gareth Southgate – the great communicator

Gareth Southgate.  If you’re looking for insights into the origins of the waistcoat, or the development of the 3-5-2 I’m afraid we can’t oblige.  Because we want to focus on his outstanding communication skills. Six weeks ago, you might have been surprised to read that an English football manager embodied many of the skills we

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Why Kevin Pietersen bowled us over with this speech …

Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Benn, Michelle and Barak Obama and Sir Ken Robinson. We have quoted them all recently on the back of truly great speech writing (and delivery). And one name we hadn’t intended to add to the list was Kevin Pietersen

Best Tips 4: Improving your public speaking skills.

So here’s the challenge: You have an important speech in the diary.  A conference speech perhaps?  Or a big pitch?  It’s the ultimate test of your public speaking skills. Where to begin? Well, as early as possible. The most important ingredient of any speech is preparation. And the first place to prepare is to think

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Best Tips 3: How to keep a business speech simple

Some tips inspired by Reasons to be Cheerful. A refreshing antidote to those who know too much about their chosen subject and can’t help it spilling it all out in an impenetrable torrent of lists and details.

Best tips 2: how and why to pause when speaking in public

“My bum looks big in this.” No it doesn’t. “My partner’s friends don’t like me.” Yes they do. “I can’t pause for that long it sounds stupid.” Yes you can!

A year on – is Trump making communication great again?

At Great Speech Writing we are, of course, politically neutral. However, it will not surprise our regular followers that the majority of our clients share a number of opinions about the President of the United States, few of which involve him making communication great again.  Or anything for that matter.  The majority view veers between dislike

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Best tips 1: how to write a successful business speech

How to write a successful business speech?  It’s extraordinary how many brilliant business people don’t get it right.  And how simple it is to write something really compelling. Whether the business speech is at an external conference, an internal meeting or a big pitch, there is a tendency for the speaker to: Begin slowly and

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How we can learn from Oprah Winfrey’s speech and #metoo

As you know by now, Oprah Winfrey, the ‘people’s’ first lady, took to the stage at the Golden Globes. She stood up to collect the Cecil B Demille award.  Which officially made this an acceptance speech. Acceptance speeches are often prime examples of how not to give a speech. Endless lists of thank yous to

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Public Speaking: 12 (free) tips for Christmas!

This is the time of year when otherwise thoughtful, empathetic and inspiring business leaders inadvertently become irrelevant and dull. Or, potentially, even worse, they attempt to be hilariously funny, demonstrating a worrying lack of self-awareness. Which is such a waste. Because the office party provides a wonderful opportunity to give a speech that really does make a difference. It can do so by conforming to our twelve very simple public speaking tips.

How Soviet propaganda can transform your presentation skills

The Tate Modern exhibition, ‘Red Star Over Russia’, features some incredible propaganda posters from the first half of the twentieth century. Behind them lay unimaginable terror. But the artwork is extraordinarily striking. The Soviet poet, Vladamir Mayakovsky, suggested that a Soviet poster failed if it could not bring a running man to a halt. Which

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8 tips to transform your public speaking confidence

I regularly speak at conferences, off-sites and celebrations, and yet I still feel dry in the mouth and ever so slightly nauseous before the next event.  I didn’t relax on my own wedding day until after I’d spoken.  The key is to understand that what you are feeling is natural, and that it can be defeated.  Fear of public speaking is something you share with all sorts of people who have made their names doing it for a living.

Our speech for Theresa May’s new beginning

We write for a host of politicians representing different parties and views around the world. Mrs May isn’t one of them. Tonight we offer her a few words to announce a fresh, inclusive, more optimistic start. Pro bono!

Corbyn and May Communication Top Trumps

So the votes are counted and the results are in.  Corbyn and May have been dissected by sharper minds than ours.  We’re not political here at Great Speech Writing. But we’re endlessly fascinated by political narrative and dialogue. Over six weeks of campaigning, barring one rather high-profile U-turn, the parties remained consistent in terms of policy. So what changed? 

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How to make your business speech relevant

How do you make your business speech relevant? Particularly when your subject matter is dry, your audience is tired, or the news you are communicating isn’t good. 4 tips and some examples to bring your speech to life.

The Great Speech Writing, Great Speech Awards, 2016

We’ve written hundreds and listened to many more. Speeches dominated the agenda. Some were poignant, others perfect. Some “tremendous”, others terrifying. Some bombastic, others barbed. After much deliberation at HQ we’re delighted to announce the recipients of the following ‘Great Speech Awards’ for outstanding contributions to public speaking in the extraordinary year that was 2016.

Trump, Brexit and the new rhetoric

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” This may be the only article you read this week that will introduce the rhetoric and success of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage with a quote

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Amy’s tips on communicating with confidence

We recently started working with Amy Beth Hayes, star of stage and screen. She has been helping many of our clients deliver speeches and presentations with confidence, authority and more than a little success! Watching Amy work is fascinating. She has broadened our horizons, away from simply delivering well-written scripts and into the impact we make

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3.5 tips to guarantee a great motivational speech

Your motivational speech. What matters is the big message. The team wants to understand how things stand and what the future holds. You want to get them working harder and adding to the general good.

Melania’s greatest speech-related crime. And it’s not the cut and paste.

Melania should not be given too much abuse for reading her script, simply for trusting the wrong speechwriter. But she is culpable of a worse crime than plagiarising

The key to writing and delivering ANY speech or presentation

This piece is based on a video that includes eight brief clips.  Four of them show different speakers starting some pretty unimpressive speeches. We then see each of them filmed again after receiving some simple professional presentation advice. On the surface, you may wonder why we have pulled them into one stream.  Two are preparing

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Three crucial lessons about presenting in 1 minute 53 seconds!

How do you turn a detailed corporate message into something interesting? How do you avoid your colleagues yawning their way through your big presenting moment? How do you communicate with impact? This video clip is less than two minutes long, but it contains many of the answers. It shows the start of two presentations. The

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Why was Hilary Benn’s speech so impressive?

Ten hours of debate. Over a hundred speeches. The Prime Minister, leader of the opposition and Foreign Secretary made notable contributions. And yet overwhelming consensus is that Hilary Benn topped them all. Watch the speech on the Guardian website Whether it was actually the ‘greatest’ parliamentary speech is questionable (24 hour news lends itself to

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Election 2015 – when the best political speeches came too late

From a political speech writing perspective, this was an election to forget. The campaign lasted for weeks, and yet there were few really memorable speeches. For the most part, the key players confirmed to their own stereotypes. And that, in a nutshell, was why the election campaign was so unremarkable. Ed Milliband improved a little

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Political Speeches – David Cameron’s Manifesto Speech

Once again, we start with our usual disclaimer: we love politics, but we are non-political. We work with politicians from different parties throughout the world, so this is piece is about the speech, not the politics. As Ed Miliband showed in his manifesto launch the previous day, there can be an advantage in low expectations.

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Political Speeches – Ed Miliband’s Manifesto Speech

First, our usual reminder that we work with politicians from different parties, nationally and internationally, so this piece is about the craft and delivery of the speech, not the politics. Because of the steady release of information over the last few weeks, the nominal function of the speech – to introduce the key points in

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#FeelNoShame Prince Harry launches campaign

Why does Prince Harry fear speaking in public? A five minute interview from the Afternoon Show with Dan Walker and Sarah Brett marked Prince Harry’s launch of the #FeelNoShame campaign. Celebrities admit their secrets in support of children in Lesotho who feel too ashamed to tell anyone they have HIV, this World AIDS Day is a day

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