10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech – Review by Alan Barker

9 February 2013

By Fletcher Dean
Published by Vital Speeches of the Day, 2011

Fletcher Dean introduces his book as “a primer on how to write a speech”. And, as a primer, it works extremely well.

Dean knows the worlds of both political and corporate speechwriting. He takes a pragmatic view of the speechwriter’s job.

He’s not afraid to tackle the fuzzy areas: the relationship between script and notes; the fraught question of Powerpoint; and most importantly, the relationship between scriptwriters and their principals. Dean’s first command is to know the audience. What, above all, do you want them to do after listening to the speech?

Although the early chapters are somewhat checklist-heavy, Dean’s take is refreshing. At the heart of his approach is what he calls the Communication Hierarchy: five ‘communication possibilities speakers can achieve with their audiences’. At the base of the staircase is ‘Inform’; we progress through ‘Create understanding’. ‘Reinforce values’ and ‘Change attitudes’ to the ultimate purpose: ‘Elicit action’.

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