Worst. Speech. Ever. Essential don’ts for speechwriters

Off to a slow start, this speech meanders through a torpid middle and ends up slogging to its bland finale. A short checklist to keep your speechwriting in fighting trim.

I was doing some research on “low-carbon economy” (Yes, I do have a fascinating job. Tomorrow I’m going to research tort reform!) and ran across what is arguably the worst speech I’ve seen in quite some time. There are so many problems, it could stand as a recipe for failure.

To protect the guilty, I won’t highlight the speaker or organization, but here’s a run-through of the problems.

Boring opening. If you’re spending anything more than 30 seconds saying “thank you for inviting me,” you’re going to lose your audience. Get to the meat fast.

Where’s the WIIFM? Following a bad opening, the speaker then proceeds to confirm the audience’s worst fears: this person has no clue what the audience wants to hear. The speaker says: “Today, I am happy to share with you what XYZ has done in the area of energy efficiency, environmental protection and fuel production, as well as my views on world energy, the environment and global economy.” What ever happened to the mandate that every speech must give the audience something back and honor every listener’s main question: What’s In It For Me?

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