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April 26, 2011


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Dead on advice as usual, David.

Maybe this is part of #5, but I think most of us also need to get over the ego and flattery of being asked to speak and be honest enough to say "no" when we know we don't have #5 nailed. Just because somebody invites you to speak, doesn't really mean you should.

True dat, Rueben. In my "speechwriting jam session" I say that most speaking engagements are ceremonial rather than communicative: The speaker was invited to speak (flattering the speaker) and the speaker accepted (flattering the audience).

It's all over but the shouting. Or, in the case of speeches, the platitudinizing.

David, both these columns are terrific. Having been a writer and then a speechwriter and then a speaker, I can echo all your observations. One thing about rehearsals: For me they never go well. I always feel awkward and ill-prepared in rehearsals. Sweaty palms? Hell, I have sweaty knees. But a funny thing happens after rehearsing. In the real moment, I am suddenly comfortable. No idea why or how that works, but it does.

Yeah, I agree, Tom; I've never had a rehearsal go as well as the real thing.

(Though I have had the real thing go as bad as my worst rehearsal.)

It's kind of a leap of faith--a faith that gets strengthened with every speech, because it works, every single time.

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