Trade Secrets

Posted on 3 December 2013

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild has published its first book: Trade Secrets – Jokes, stories and quotations for desperate speechwriters in 2014.

“This is a pilot project which the Guild intends to become an annual publication, featuring the best lines nominated by its members during the year.” said the founder Brian Jenner.

“Most people, when they stand up in public to speak deliver too much information, in a dry way, often illustrated by poor PowerPoint slides. At the Guild, we champion persuasion, which involves having a conversation with an audience and motivating them to change something. As a former Israeli Prime Minister put it:

After being 60 years in politics, I lost my taste for management. I believe to inspire is more important than to manage.

“Rather like the Magic Circle, the UK Speechwriters’ Guild has a number of secrets which we share among members. With speechwriting, some of the techniques are so simple as to be derisory. That means people don’t use them, with the result that they stand up and speak and nobody has a clue what they’re talking about. But most British audiences are too polite to point this out.”

The book is based on the same principle as Bob Monkhouse’s famous joke books. “You need to store up your best lines, and then be able to find them on the right occasion. Audiences appreciate even a little humour. Something like:

My last talk was to the British Haemorrhoid Association. I got a standing ovation.

This year’s publication features some of the retiring Chief Rabbi’s best jokes and stories, Zen parables, Bill Clinton wisecracks and a few reflections on the art of speechwriting like:

It’s not necessary to use humour in speeches. True. It’s also not necessary to wear shoes – but they help us get where we want to go.

Design and typesetting was done by Robert Havill of Europa Studio and the book was published through Copies are available exclusively to members of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild and the European Speechwriter Network.

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