A Conversation with Jeff Davenport on Speechwriting, Screenwriting and Delivery Coaching

Jeff DavenportOn Thursday, August 30th the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted Jeff Davenport in a free conference call.

Jeff serves as an executive speaker coach and senior content developer at Duarte, the well-known communication design and consulting firm based in Santa Clara, founded by Nancy Duarte.

Using his background as a screenwriter and professional public speaker, Jeff helps clients communicate powerfully and persuasively by infusing story, dynamism, and empathy into their presentations. Whether he’s coaching high-level executives or thought leaders taking the stage for conference keynotes or commencement addresses, Jeff brings a thoughtful, personal touch to his roles, tapping into speakers’ personal passions and helping them create lasting connections with their audiences.

Jeff is a 2017 Cicero Award winner in the Public Policy category for his speech ‘Someday is Today’ delivered by Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor at CADE in Lima, Peru.

The call covered a wide range of topics including:

  • How he went from a wallflower in high school to a premier public speaking coach.
  • The secrets of the “Duarte Method” that any and all speechwriters can employ (Hint: read Resonate and Illuminate).
  • The value of the DataStory training workshop available from Duarte that helps speechwriters structure a compelling argument based on analytical data.
  • The three books on screenwriting he recommends speechwriters read:
    1. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, by Syd Field
    2. Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder
    3. Into the Woods, by John Yorke
  • What you’ll learn by watching the directors cut of Toy Story 3 on Blu-Ray.

Jeff’s parting words:

I would encourage anybody to do more public speaking, especially if you are writing for other people. We all had PE teachers who we realized never once played a sport. They were terrible PE teachers. So get out there and know what it’s like to play. Take a public speaking class. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. Do some sort of public speaking, writing for yourself and delivering yourself so you can get more in the heads of your clients and what know their true struggles are.

Otherwise, I would add, you’re forever the virgin trying to write a sex manual, aren’t you?

To hear the full discussion click on the podcast icon below.

A Conversation with Bob Sands on Sermons and Speechwriting

Bob Sands On June 19, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable held a conference call with Bob Sands.

Bob is a speaker and speechwriter who has helped people and businesses tailor and tell their stories for the last 25 years. He has also been a Pastor, Entrepreneur, Coach and Radio Broadcaster.

Currently, he is focusing his time on helping individuals, businesses and organizations clarify and communicate their message. As the President of Sands Communications, Inc., he has given over 5000 presentations himself to every kind of group from Funeral directors to firefighters to CEO’s. He has coached and written keynote speeches for executives, helped salespeople hone their speaking skills and developed communication strategies for both political candidates and elected officials.

The call covered a wide range of topics including:

  • Bob’s techniques for crafting a sermon, most often delivered to a familiar audience.
  • The challenge of preaching to congregations where the common themes of the Bible known to earlier generations have been lost.
  • His segue intro speechwriting, and where he finds most of his freelance clients.
  • The relevance of the study of homiletics to speechwriting, especially the books of Alyce McKenzie.
  • Bob’s use of social media to magnify the impact of his message.
  • What impressed him about David Murray’s recent PSA White Paper titled A Provocation from the Pulpit: Dead Preachers Challenge Living Speechwriters.
  • Breaking News: David Murray announcing the creation of a companion to the well-known Vital Speeches of the Day — Vital Sermons of the Day which David and Bob are launching. Find out more on their Facebook page.

To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.

The Atomic Hobo Thinks the Unthinkable

Nuke posterFiona Sturges has a great weekly column in the Financial Times reviewing podcasts. This week she highlights The Atomic Hobo by British journalist, cold war specialist and self-confessed “nuke geek” Julie McDowall.

Julie has an engaging Scottish accent, which adds a degree of surrealism to the subject of her regular podcasts: the ways in which Britain and the US prepared for nuclear attack during the cold war. So far, themes have included the disposal of the dead (in Britain, councils stockpiled shrouds); how to keep survivors calm in the bunker (pills, mostly); food distribution; and the fate of family pets.

Certain speechwriters are employed to draft ‘red file’ talks that will be delivered in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. Thankfully, those statements have, so far, remained filed away.

To hear how the threat of nuclear war has influenced people to date, check out Julie’s great podcast.

A Conversation with Barbara Seymour Giordano on Storytelling

Barbara Seymour Giordano HeadshotOn May 24, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable Held a conference call with Barbara Seymour Giordano. Barbara is a Story Doctor, Speechwriter and Presentation Coach who specializes in helping speakers tell memorable stories that audiences yearn to hear and share. Her specialty is guiding speakers — from the page to the stage — through the often murky and intricate process of bringing a story idea to life. She turns complex subjects into moving stories that spark imagination across cultures.

Over her career Barbara has advised Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurs, scientists and TED presenters on creating and sharing stories that unite, influence and inspire audiences worldwide. Her fascination with story began when she worked as an assignment editor with CNN and E! Entertainment Television. She then parlayed her news experience into producing and directing corporate videos, global sales meetings and events for Amgen, Cisco Systems, and Nike among others. In front of the lens she’s appeared as an on-camera national TV fashion and beauty spokesperson for Lands’ End, Neiman Marcus, and TJX Corp. she delivers keynote speeches on topics that include The Art of Business of Storytelling, The Startup Pitch: Telling Stories Investors Want to Hear, and Storytelling TED Style. Her 360-degree communication experience allows her to offer a unique approach to crafting the stories that make speeches come alive..

The call covered a wide range of topics including:

  • How she “backed into” speechwriting after helping coach executives in need of basic advice on presentation skills at large corporate events.
  • The lessons she learned crafting 90-second investor pitches and 8-12 minute TED talks.
  • Her appreciation of Toastmasters as the “learning gym” for presentation skills.
  • The value of a simple one-page approach to the “hero’s journey” as a speech outline.
  • How she helped PhD candidates in sociology, pharmacy other disciplines deliver content as a compelling story stripping out the techno-babble they were prone to use.
  • The value of shows like Billions and Silicon Valley as an alternate view into the world of speechwriting and presentations that stands in contrast to the oft-quoted scenes from The West Wing.
  • How to structure a speech around a story by starting from the desired outcome.
  • How freelance speechwriters can find more clients.

To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.

A Conversation with Felicity Barber

Felicity BarberOn April 26, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable Held a conference call with Felicity Barber. Felicity is the Executive Speechwriter at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She is a communications expert specializing in thought leadership, storytelling and speechwriting. Prior to joining the Fed she ran her own business, Thoughtful Speech for three years. She moved to San Francisco from London in 2014 where she was a speechwriter at the global insurer, Lloyd’s of London. She has also worked as a Policy Advisor to the Home Office in London and as a Parliamentary Assistant to the Labour Party member for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry MP.

The call covered a wide range of topics including:

  • The focus of the book Felicity wrote that was presented to the Queen (and Her Majesty read).
  • The origin of the term ‘underwriter’ (as in the Insurance industry, not someone who is a junior speechwriter…)
  • How Felicity broke into the speechwriting business in London.
  • A comparison between the work of a speechwriter in the UK and USA.
  • Her observation that the publishers of anthologies of famous speeches rarely include those given by woman.
  • The impact of the young women such as Emma Gonzales who survived the shooting at their school and spoke out against American gun culture.
  • The advantage enjoyed by the younger generation of speakers who are social media natives.
  • Notable speeches by women such as those by Oprah Winfrey, actress Anne Hathaway and the secret speech of MzBhaver Raver.
  • The UN Women Instagram account as source of inspirational women speakers.
  • An appreciation of the work of Denise Graveline promoting women speakers.
  • The challenges faced by women who work in the “Brotopia” culture of Silicon Valley tech companies and the urgent need for that industry to recruit diverse talent.
  • The value of women mentoring women, for example by Women who Code and Anitab.org
  • The challenges faced by women in politics and lessons speechwriters can learn from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the views of communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
  • The value of building a long-term relationship between a speechwr1ter and speaker.
  • The rise and fall of women in tech (as a percentage of programmers).
  • The pervasive influence of Silicon Valley on our economy, culture and politics as revealed by Norm Cohen in The Know-It-Alls.
  • How to address the imbalance in the ratio between male and female speakers? What influence can speechwr1ters have?
  • The prominence of women in the National Speakers Association including Past-President Patricia Fripp.

To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.

The 2018 Cicero Speechwriting Awards – A conversation with David Murray

CiceroMore than 2,000 years ago, Cicero called rhetoric a “great art.” Since then, staggering advances in mass communication haven’t diminished the transformative power of a great speech.

And the Cicero Speechwriting Awards recognize the speechwriters and the speakers who make it great.

Presented by Vital Speeches of the Day, the prestigious monthly collection of speeches, the Cicero Speechwriting Awards recognize the work that makes the speeches that help leaders lead—in every sector of business, politics and society.

In this podcast I talk with VSOTD editor David Murray about what makes a speech Cicero Award material, and the changes he’s seen over the last dozen years that the Awards have been given. To hear what David said, simply click on the podcast icon below.

Click here to enter the 2018 Cicero Speechwriting Awards today.

Podcast: Shel Holtz on Social Media and Speechwriting

Shel HoltzOn Wednesday October 4th the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted a conference call with Shel Holtz. We discussed the ways in which social and digital media — which have given rise to content marketing — offer a host of options to speechwriters to draw attention to the speech before, during, and after its delivery. Shel reviewed the rapid development of the many forms of social media available for speechwriters to use, from humble beginnings as blogs and chat rooms to the rich variety of streaming media solutions available today.

Among the tips Shel shared was the use of Poll Everywhere to engage audiences and the Mevo live event camera for streaming.

Click on the podcast icon below to listen to Shel discuss these topics and more, as well as answer questions from speechwriters who were on the call. (Apologies for the audio which suffered from occasional background noise, but nothing that should prevent you listening to whole 55 minute call.)

A Conversation with Tim Pollard on Fail-Proofing Your Communication

Tim PollardOn Thursday May 18 members of the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable were in conversation with Tim Pollard, author of The Compelling Communicator: Mastering the Art and Science of Exceptional Presentation Design.

In his new book, Tim Pollard has developed a systematic approach to the design and delivery of presentations and speeches that is applicable to everything from sales pitches to keynotes to TED Talks. The framework outlined in The Compelling Communicator is supported by research in how the brain processes information and how human beings learn; and it’s buttressed by Tim’s years of in-person experience communicating with, and coaching, leaders in business and non-profits worldwide.

Click on the podcast icon below to listen to Tim discuss some of the key concepts in his book, as well as answer questions from executive communications professionals at Cisco and Hewlett Packard.

Pod Save America

Pod Save America

I’m impressed by the new podcast from the Obama speechwriting team (who suddenly have time on their hands).

Pod Save America is a lively, irreverent and highly partisan discussion hosted by hosted by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor. In the latest episode they are joined by second-term chief speechwriter Cody Keenan in a discussion that gives some great advice on what makes a speechwriters’ life pleasurable or painful, why edits to a draft are to be welcomed, and makes the unequivocal point on the importance of direct access to the principal, not mediated by comms staff.

There’s wonderful inside baseball tales on which sections of Obama’s speeches were written by who, and where the President made killer edits.

I love it that their Twitter account has over 30,000 followers but they only follow one person, can you guess who?

Check it out on iTunes or your favorite podcast syndication venue.

Why consider a career in Marketing

My son recently graduated with a degree in International Business and Marketing and is looking for an entry-level position in this area. I met today with a group of marketing professionals who shared the many reasons young people should consider a career in this field.

To hear what they told me, click on the podcast icon below.

Oh, and if you know of any entry-level marketing jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area let me know! Neil’s Dad will thank you…