Tips, tactics, tears flowed at the 2008 Speechwriters Conference

Last week in Washington, D.C., members of the “silent profession” were anything but. Here are some of the best ideas shared at the speechwriting show. Video

Last week in Washington, D.C., members of the “silent profession” were anything but. Here are some of the best ideas shared at the speechwriting show

Ragan’s Speechwriters Conference is usually as much a rhetoric revival meeting as a business conference.

Thanks to a big crowd and the increasing availability of great speeches on YouTube (and portability in PowerPoint), this year’s show, held last week at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., was even more of a spiritual experience than usual.

The speechwriters marveled, laughed and literally cried at the rhetorical power generated by the combination of being with 255 of their colleagues, and watching clips of great speeches from such varied figures as Lyndon Johnson, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher and Ronald Reagan. Even crusty Ragan.com editors were caught wiping away a tear after a speaker showed a schmaltzy scene from the schmaltzy Richard Dreyfuss film, Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Because speechwriters might be the most isolated and misunderstood of the communication disciplines, the Speechwriters Conference is a uniquely cathartic coming together.

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