Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get Joan Detz in your corner

Joan Detz's "How to Write & Give a Speech" has been in print for 30 years, a miracle in the world of publishing. The new Third Edition, just issued by St. Martin's Press, is better than ever. Detz now addresses social media, of course, but the three sections I found most useful touch on old-fashioned communication problems that never go away:

How to Prepare the Room: Because A/V stands for Always Vexing! My favorite tip within this checklist: "Can you be heard without a microphone? If so, don't use one." 

How to Structure the Content of Your Talk: Chronological isn't the only choice, by far. How about cause-and-effect? Numerical order? Problem-solution? Geographical order? Psychological order (what matters most to your audience)? Even alphabetical? ("Why not? This certainly is easy for the audience to follow.") All are great twists on the usual approach to corporate storytelling. 

How to Handle Q&A Sessions: Among the 10 priceless tips is "Listen carefully ... don't nod your head enthusiastically to show you understand the question. The audience may think you automatically agree with the questioner."

I've had the privilege of studying speechwriting and presentation techniques with Joan Detz, and I've been delighted to appear on conference panels with her. When St. Martin's Press asked me to provide a recommendation for the book's opening page, I was happy to comply. Here's the nugget: "Joan Detz's guidance goes far beyond speechwriting. The practical wisdom in these pages will help you communicate your best in every business situation."