7 speechwriting lessons from Australia

When giving a ceremonial speech, avoid spin, research the event, and ‘acknowledge the elephant,’ says a Qantas speechwriter.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Editor’s note: This story and video clip are taken from Ragan’s new distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains more than 200 hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. For membership information, please click here.

Two speeches. Two prime ministers. Same subject. Same event: the 10th anniversary of a 2002 terrorist attack in Bali, Indonesia, that claimed 202 lives, among them many Australians.

The speech by Australia’s current prime minister, Julia Gillard, fell flat, says Qantas speechwriter Lucinda Holdforth. The address by one of her predecessors, John Howard, hit all the right notes.

Why? Holdforth, who addressed the topic at a Ragan’s 2013 Speechwriters and Executive Communicators Conference, examined the two speeches—and other successes—as she offered principles for all speechwriters drafting ceremonial addresses. You can watch the informative session RaganTraining.com.

1. Use words of strength and compassion.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.