What makes a good speech great?
June 4, 2020

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
May 7, 2020

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.
March 7, 2020

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)
January 15, 2020

“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’s oratory: beyond a dream
January 19, 2019

Dr Martin Luther King

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!
December 7, 2018

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
November 23, 2018

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
September 5, 2018

Motivational Speech Help - Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey

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
July 12, 2018

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 …
June 26, 2018

'Caps and trousers stained with sweat, grass and sometimes even blood in the white heat of a Test match. It's something I believe – passionately'

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.
February 13, 2018

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
January 29, 2018

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
January 26, 2018

pause button

“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?
January 18, 2018

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
January 12, 2018

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
January 10, 2018

what we can learn from Oprah

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!
November 28, 2017

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
November 7, 2017

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
July 19, 2017

Warren Buffet Public Speaking Confidence Tips

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
June 13, 2017

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
June 9, 2017

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
March 22, 2017

making 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
December 22, 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
November 9, 2016

“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
October 17, 2016

Amy Beth Hayes

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
August 8, 2016

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.
July 19, 2016

Melania Trump borrows words from Michelle

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
January 15, 2016

Speech and presentation delivery coaching

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!
December 16, 2015

Internal comms before and after video

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?
December 4, 2015

Hilary Benn speaking on Syria

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
May 11, 2015

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
April 16, 2015

David Cameron

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

Ed Miliband launches his manifesto

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
February 19, 2015

Prince Harry speech phobia, speech writing

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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Twelve Tips for TED Talks
February 11, 2015

TED Talks

  I spent Monday at ‘TEDex’ in Brussels.  It was held in a theatre holding over 2,000.  Talk followed talk.  Paddy Ashdown discussed democracy.  Jonathan Rowland discussed the consequences of nearly dying.  Some inspired, others educated, a few may still be wondering what they were trying to do. I had written TED talks before, but

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David Cameron in Birmingham. A good speech.
October 1, 2014

David Cameron Birmingham

This is solely an analysis of the conference speech made by David Cameron. And, in a nutshell, it was presidential. I should begin, as previously, with a health and safety warning. This isn’t political analysis. I write without baggage. His context is a fast-changing political scene. His weakness is a party appearing not to be ‘in

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Ed. How to write a great speech. Together.
September 23, 2014

Ed Miliband

  Dear Ed, I sat in the auditorium today to listen to you. I’m politically neutral, so I wasn’t there to cheer or snipe. But I was able to be objective. You have had a lot of stick. Much of it is unfair. You are clearly hugely intelligent and thoughtful. It’s clear that you are

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How to take your speech to the next level: 5 tips
August 30, 2014


Writing a speech is easy. Writing a great speech is a little trickier.  But it isn’t rocket science. So often, speeches fail to reach their potential because five very simple points have been overlooked.  These five points sit at the heart of everything we do at Great Speech Writing, whether it’s for a President, an

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A testimonial with tips
August 5, 2014

Railway Track

  Ben Scanlan works for Network Rail. We’ve spent time together on his corporate messaging and presentations. He kindly sent through these thoughts. They include some useful tips that Ben is happy to share. Here they are: “So over the past three months I’ve been using Lawrence once every couple of weeks for an afternoon at a time. Here’s

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Speech nerves? Luckily, you’re not George
March 21, 2014

George Osborne outside no 11 Downing Street

  Preparing a speech for a business event or a forthcoming wedding? Worried about standing up in front of an expectant audience?  Scared of a heckle or a nasty quip? It’s at times like this we need to draw breath and create some perspective. Let’s just feel relieved that we’re not George Osborne delivering a

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How to ruin a great business pitch
March 11, 2014

Gerald Ratner

  I had a meeting with a long-standing client yesterday. He is a great guy, a formidable presenter, and a very successful professional in the world of finance.  But he arrived at the meeting looking unusually downbeat.  His first words were that: “My confidence is shot“. He emphasised how he had made a name for

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The greatest speeches and speakers
November 8, 2013

JFK inaugural speech

The list of speeches is endless, the candidates limitless and the answer completely and utterly subjective.  But we thought we’d give it a go anyway. This isn’t just a cut-and-paste of every other ‘Best Speeches Ever’ compilation.  It breaks public speaking down into its five key constituent parts, and  picks an example to demonstrate each. 

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5 Tips to Quash Business Presentation Nerves
October 14, 2013


  I’ve written elsewhere about how to write original, punchy content for your business presentations. Having great content is often the key to feeling confident about standing up and speaking. But you may still be apprehensive. Here are five tried and trusted tips that form the basis of our one-to-one coaching with nervous presenters. You’ll

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Football Managers and Public Speaking
July 26, 2013


  Politicians must be so jealous of football managers. Our leaders have to fight for publicity. New policy ideas or funding programmes have to be pushed, leaked and spun relentlessly to gain any significant media coverage. But if Sir Alex Ferguson suggests a referee is slightly overweight … it instantly becomes headline news! (By the

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Managing your voice to conquer the nerves
February 11, 2013

The majority of our blog posts focus on your content and how to structure, write and edit speeches and presentations. From time-to-time we cover delivery, but rarely from the perspective of a public speaking phobia. When nerves take over completely then our value as speech writers is limited, and we refer clients to people who

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Weaning yourself off slide addiction
January 29, 2013

The Addiction Slides. They are a corporate drug. Prescribed correctly and in small doses they can work miracles. Abused and, at best, they induce narcolepsy. They are also addictive (usually in the lethal PowerPoint form), and over-used by businesses, institutions and presenters across the world. The Symptoms Slide addiction has a number of easy-to-spot symptoms.

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Introducing your business presentation
December 1, 2012

It is no secret that your audience will judge you during the first minute of your business presentation. If you appear convincing and impactful at the beginning, the audience will listen to you throughout. It is worth spending as much time on that minute as the next five combined. Here are three ways to make

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Confidence in the Boardroom
October 8, 2012

Sheelagh McNamara is a RADA Tutor (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and a highly trained voice, speech & presentation skills professional with extensive experience in executive level coaching in England, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the US. With over 30 years experience Sheelagh’s clients include Oscar Nominees, Politicians, Lawyers, and Senior Executives together with the CEOs and Presidents

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Wisdom or Waffle? Yes, Political Speech Season is Here Again
September 19, 2012

Speeches to be given on both sides of the Atlantic over the next six weeks will not only make or break political careers, but shape the political landscape of the future. The major UK party conferences begin later this month, and the US presidential election campaign is already underway. The speeches given at those conferences,

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How to write a great speech: BREVITY
January 11, 2012

Having read my previous articles, you should now have a relevant and original message in mind and are ready to put pen to paper. Things are looking good, but the pitfalls aren’t all out the way. Because there is nothing worse than a speaker who takes two minutes to introduce himself and then uses long,

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