Sorensen award winner seeks to ‘elevate the conversation’

Speechwriter Laurie Vincent shares secrets of crafting an award-winning address.

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Speechwriter Laurie Vincent shares secrets of crafting an award-winning address

Usually the only recognition a speechwriter gets is from his or her speaker. On rare occasions a speech gets the praise it deserves, and that happened at the 2009 Speechwriters Conference in Washington, D.C., when Laurie Vincent won the first Theodore C. Sorensen Speechwriting Award for best organizational speech of the year.

Vincent won the award for “Leadership in the New Normal,” a speech written for MasterCard Worldwide. It was delivered by Walt Macnee, president, global markets for MasterCard, as the opening address of a major conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in August 2008.

“What makes speechwriting worthwhile is when you can elevate the conversation,” Vincent told “The speaker has the opportunity to talk about broader issues and trends, and exciting things that are happening, and the audience really can start thinking about their position and work in ways that go far beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. So that was what we ended up focusing on.”

The panel of judges decided she had achieved that goal when writing the speech.

What is the ‘New Normal’?

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