More about me:

  • I've been working as a freelance speechwriter for over 10 years, sometimes full-time and other times as a job on the side
  • Can't name names of clients, but can tell you they've been college presidents/trustees, business owners, CEOs, professors, authors, and everyone in between
  • I've written everything from wedding toasts to TEDx speeches to keynote speeches. My favorite speeches are short ceremonial speeches like retirement toasts and graduation speeches.
  • Speechwriting is a rewarding freelance career and something that's worth pursuing if you have a writing or rhetoric-based background

If you have a short speech on which you'd like feedback, feel free to submit it. I'll take a look and give feedback where I can.

If you'd like a free copy of Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway or be a reviewer with Booksprout or Book Sirens. Of course, you can purchase on Amazon as well--the book is now at 99 cents as part of a launch promo. Other ebook vendors should be online within the week once Ingram Spark has finished its distribution.


I'll be here from 9:30 AM to 12 PM Eastern and from 2 PM and after.

EDIT: Offline until 2 PM Eastern (have some podcasts to go on), but keep the questions coming and I'll keep answering once I'm back. You all have been wonderful!

EDIT: And I'm back, should be good to go until around 5 PM. Looking forward to answering your questions.

EDIT 4/19: Thanks all for your wonderful questions. Signing off and closing off this AMA.

Comments: 219 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

Chairsareoverrated159 karma

This is probably an obvious question but what do you think makes a good best man's speech? My brother is my best man and he's not great when it comes to public speaking

Thank you in advance

Eddie-Rice-Author486 karma

Perfect question:

A few things:

  1. It's a toast, not a roast--too many people forget that
  2. The two goals of a toast should be to honor the person and honor the event
  3. A simple structure, based around one great story, works really well


I. Introduce yourself and tell people how you're related to the person you're toasting

II. Tell one great story that truly honors the person

III. Address the other member of the couple and say a few great things about them

IV. Give some advice to the couple

V. End with "raise your glass...insert a quote...cheers!"

mywifemademegetthis110 karma

On a scale of 1-10, how perfect was Dwight’s speech for accepting the salesman of the year award?

Eddie-Rice-Author174 karma

Probably one my favorite Office scenes. I can't even rate how amazing this speech was. More of a perfect 5/7.

confuscated26 karma

trying to look up more info about the speech, I find it is based upon Mussolini's speeches.

Now I feel obligated to study history more ...

ref: wikipedia article

Eddie-Rice-Author46 karma

In the episode, Jim pranked Dwight by writing his speech as an amalgamation of various dictatorial speeches. It was just an amazing moment in their workplace relationship.

boston_shua69 karma

You mentioned wedding speeches which are important but what about eulogies where the audience is in mourning?

Eddie-Rice-Author186 karma

Eulogies are tough. I haven't had the opportunity to write many.

A few guidelines:

  1. Find a way to honor the person's life--match your tone with that of the service. Some memorials are somber occasions while others are true celebrations of life.
  2. Look to tell stories of a person's life where they can be instructive to others. What life lessons can be passed on to others in attendance?
  3. Humor has its place, if you've got a good wit about you and the person you're honoring did some truly funny things, it's OK to lighten the mood with some light hearted stories. This shouldn't be the start of your standup career but a funny story rather than a joke should work depending on the occasion.

HomelessCosmonaut58 karma

I remember back in high school we had an assignment where we analyzed some presidential speeches, including Kennedy's inaugural address in comparison to George W. Bush's big speeches at the time. It was obvious that the style and execution of these speeches were wildly different. Kennedy's inaugural address was articulate and studious, delivered poetically to establish an inspirational tone.

Meanwhile, Bush (and I don't mean to single him out, he was just president at the time, and most of his contemporaries do this too) delivered speeches that were much more direct - almost bullet-pointed - using very little advanced vocabulary, and extremely punctuated so that audience members could interject with applause.

The assignment also noted that Kennedy wrote his inaugural address while Bush's speech was compiled by speechwriters. The prompt asked us to consider the merit of writing your own speeches and the value that should be placed on a poetic and articulate delivery.

Most the class agreed that the old way was better and that we were missing out on a better form of national storytelling. What do you think?

Eddie-Rice-Author79 karma

That's interesting. Kennedy definitely had speechwriters (Ted Sorensen comes to mind). However, I think what's not to be lost is how much authenticity you have when the original words are your own versus a prepare text written wholly by someone else. There's that famous picture of Obama sitting down with Favreau to work on the SOTU ( and I think that's how the speechwriter-speaker relationship should be: a close relationship where it's a partnership, a meeting of the minds.

I agree, when it comes to delivery, I like the soaring addresses of Kennedy and similar orators over the punctuated line--applause--line--applause style that you see too much of. You lose rhythm and momentum that way. The best way to maintain that rhythm and delivery is to write your own stuff, practice it with feedback, and practice it some more.

HGMIV92652 karma

I am skilled at writing. I've been told by multiple people authorities over the course of my life that I am good at writing.

How the fuck do I start freelancing? I don't have a blog or something because I always start and then never continue; ADHD is a pain. But seriously if someone gives me a topic, I'll do my best! Is that valuable anywhere? Fiverr seems like a good bet but again; I don't know how to market myself.

Eddie-Rice-Author101 karma

Here was my journey if it's helpful:

  1. I started on elance/guru/Odesk before UpWork came into being. I answered every post imaginable that I thought I could write. This first set of clients became my core group, after each interaction I asked for referrals.
  2. I learned SEO and figured out how to rank for longtail keywords or ones not in high demand, like "hire a speechwriter." Yes, this took time and content.
  3. I tried cold-pitching various emails of PR firms and others who I thought would need my services--this didn't work too well.
  4. While I did do some blogging, I grew my email list instead. I spend more time emailing my list than writing blog posts. I usually get a client or two from each email that I send on a list of about 300-400. You can build an email list by offering a free giveaway to anyone who signs up.
  5. While I don't do blogging much on my site, I still did guest posts for other blogs. These were a better use of my time.
  6. I'm now going on podcasts to promote my book and services. is a great place to start.
  7. Check out The Freelance Content Marketing Writer by Jennifer Goforth Gregory. It may help you.

hudnix44 karma

If you have to say some words at the funeral of a truly terrible person with no redeeming qualities, but you need to keep it civil and not make a scene, what do you say?

Eddie-Rice-Author110 karma

I would keep it as short as possible. One thing you could do is read a poem instead. Find something appropriate for the occasion, ensure you have the proper permission, and read a poem or prepared text. That should get you out of saying something inappropriate without making a scene.

phl_fc31 karma

How does a speechwriter help prepare an address for a person who likes to ad-lib a lot? How does this differ from writing for a person who sticks to a word-for-word script?

Eddie-Rice-Author63 karma

For ad-libbers, bullet points are your friends. I just create an outline filled with bullets and let the person go off of that. Usually they are pretty good with improvising.

For word for word--lots more preparation goes into the exact words (see the post above for those types of clients)--I still like to double space the draft and also include a margin at the bottom (usually 1/4 of the page) so the speaker doesn't have to look down too far at their notes.

THE_fmradio25 karma

What are some good guidelines to eliciting emotion during a speech? Namely landing a good punchline or delivering a solemn moment without being a buzzkill?

Eddie-Rice-Author41 karma

This is good and it's something that's hard to put into words to be honest.

Storytelling is one of the best techniques to use elicit emotion. You can allow the story to make the point you want to make without being explicit and how you tell the story can convey the emotion you want.

Other techniques are preparation and authenticity. Say the words like you would say them in everyday conversation--people can tell if you're faking it. Preparation is key because you can practice the tonality by which you want to deliver a line specific to the occasion. Get feedback from a trusted friend or use a voice recorder app to hear yourself and your delivery. Those should help give you a quick gut check on whether or not a line is landing.

theshantanu20 karma

Any advice on how to be less verbose? I feel like whenever I have to write something, I have a hard time stopping myself from writing a really long sentence.

Eddie-Rice-Author50 karma

Sure, it's a skill like any others that will take time to practice.

Here are a few ways to practice--whenever you have a comma or a conjunction (and, but, if, etc.), look to place a period there instead and see how the sentence sounds.

Read writers who write with shorter sentences and try to model what they are doing: C.S. Lewis, Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy.

When speaking out loud, take pauses between what you are saying. They will feel awkward at first but you'll get used to them and your audience will thank you. Pauses help the audience process what you're saying.

Dinobrainiak11 karma

I pay for an AI-powered tool that helps me shorten sentences and phrases. I won’t name it because I don’t want to be seen as a shill but I thought I’d share so you’re aware they’re out there. I often freelance for print publications and I used to waste hours cutting my stories to meet set word limits. The tool isn’t perfect but it’s been a huge help to me!

Eddie-Rice-Author9 karma

Interesting. I wouldn't see it as you being a shill. I've had mixed success with AI writing tools. Grammarly is pretty good and so is Pro Writing Aid. I find the two about equal.

UncoolJ20 karma

What advice do you have for balancing PowerPoint presentation (or the like) with the speech overall? Do you have any rules to follow?

I've seen presentations by high level leaders that are basically a transcript of what they're remarking on. While others just have an image (no text) about the section of their speech.

Eddie-Rice-Author53 karma

First, prepare the text of what you want to say first. Second, see each slide as a backup to what you're saying. If something happens to the powerpoint file (corrupted, lost, etc.), you'll still have your main speech.

Keep lines of text to no more than one line on each slide--you have infinite slides so you can create many.

Don't make the presentation on the slides a transcript--you could've just emailed that. Instead, seek to make each slide a summary or simply a picture.

I love Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds as a starting point for any PPT presentation.

funmobile12 karma

What is the ballpark price range for a piece of writing? I'm sure a lot of people have never considered using this type of service thinking it would be too expensive, but might gladly pay $___ to get a polished script. Thanks.

Eddie-Rice-Author34 karma

Each writer prices differently. For me, ceremonial speeches under 10 minutes are $300. Think of a wedding toast or retirement speech in that category. For something like a TEDx talk or similar speech with tons of research and back and forth, easily $5,000+. Many writers will price by the word or by minute of speaking time. Rates vary but can be anything around $1/word or anywhere from $125 to $250+ per minute of speaking time. There are other writers who price out their services much lower than that and you can usually find those writers on Upwork or Fiverr.

well_dressed_hobo12 karma

Do clients usually accept your proposals or is the process of agreeing on a tonal composition they feel comfortable with delivering publicly a back-and-forth endeavour? Very general question that probably cannot be answered broady, but I would appreciate some anecdotal stories as I sonetimes work in a similar field and find the process of haggling over single words and phrases quite interesting/exhausting. Writing textual compositions for someone else surely comes with its own set of challenges.

Eddie-Rice-Author31 karma

Where do we start with this one? It depends on the client and how invested they are in the process. Some will go "you're the expert" and I trust whatever you put down for me to say. Others want to go line by line through each sentence and worry about each word. Those clients are usually in a public-facing role where they've been stung by using the wrong word before.

My process has a lot of back and forth and revision built in where we trade drafts and ideas. I usually don't mind the back and forth as long as it doesn't get tedious--sometimes synonyms are shades of gray in difference from each other and that will drive me crazy at times. Or the client wants a more complex word where a simpler one will do: "utilization" vs. "use."

Reaver_XIX11 karma

What are your opinions on organisations like Toastmasters?

Eddie-Rice-Author27 karma

Overall, Toastmasters is a wonderful organization if you're just starting out as a speaker. They are worldwide and have groups in every city. Go to a few meetings with each group to test out how you like the format and people. Some groups are social clubs where there's less emphasis on public speaking whereas other groups take every role seriously.

For the most part 99% of the TM groups out there are supportive, positive, and will help you grow as a public speaker. I've rejoined the organization after a 10 year hiatus and am loving it. Find as many opportunities to speak in front of a group as possible as public speaking is a skill like any other that you have to learn and improve upon regularly.

svel7 karma

we give technical presentations as a part of our job in my dept. We range from bad to boring to middling. some observations are: people are reading the text they have written in their powerpoint, or people have some notes but again it sounds like they are reading from them. What I am realising is that we have to not only practice, practice, practice - but what we say has to get more "natural". My thought, which I would like your expert opinion on, is should I be writing notes to myself in "speaking language" so that it sounds like I am speaking naturally even when I am reading these small notes? Does that make sense? The presentations are technical and the best I have been able to find so far is, I think from microsoft, which is the "tell you what I am going to tell you - tell you what I am telling you - tell you what I just told you". Anything, I believe, would be an improvement..... Thanks!

Eddie-Rice-Author8 karma

If I'm following correctly--yes, write your notes as you would speak them. I think that's a great approach. Earlier I recommended Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen as a resource that could help with better powerpoint presentations. Plus, it helps to write out your text and then create your slides. Your slides should just be backups.

Tight_Vegetable_21136 karma

Is TedX worthwhile as a speaker? What are some tips to accepted?

Eddie-Rice-Author21 karma

Yes, TEDx can be huge for your platform and marketability. I would suggest having your entire TEDx talk written before you apply. This will make your application stronger as you'll have better and more concrete answers about your talk. Too many people try to apply first and then only develop their talk once accepted. This is hard because often the applications ask for a short summary video of your talk as well. Talk first, application second, and you'll be in a great place to apply. Plus, widen your range and apply to multiple venues.

Tight_Vegetable_21132 karma

Thank you. I see you're offline right now, but if you happen to see this later, how important is it to have a fully written speech for TEDx? I'm a trial lawyer and former debater and debate coach. Typically, we don't write speeches but develop outlines instead. In an adversarial context, we need to be able to adapt based on our audience and competition. After 30 years as a public speaker, I practice from outlines and rarely memorize more than intro and conclusion. Will this bite me in the ass for TEDx?

Eddie-Rice-Author4 karma

In your case, it might be different. I would go the route of the outline, prepared intro, prepared conclusion, and tape yourself. Play it back and see how it goes. My original comment was for that person who says, "I'm going to do a TEDx," applies a bunch of places with no idea of what to say, and then wonders why their applications are failing. With you, it seems different. If you have a solid message of what to say along with an outline, you should be good to go based on your extensive background doing extemp speaking. I don't know if it's allowed, but if you wanted to talk more, you can email me: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and we can chat offline as well.

HHS20196 karma

Have you studied the art of speaking and toasting in other countries? If so, how do some do it differently or better than Americans?

Eddie-Rice-Author7 karma

I have not, unfortunately. It would be something interesting to pursue. I was on an Australian wedding podcast where toasts in that country are more akin to roasts. I thought that was a unique take as even at the most elegant of affairs, people seem to get quite bawdy according to the host of the podcast.

Watermelon_Salesman5 karma

Do you write management speeches, such as motivational talks or apologies?

Any experience writing a speech with heavy criticism towards upper management? Those are pretty challenging.

Eddie-Rice-Author15 karma

I've never had to write a speech that criticized upper management. That would be tough. You'd have to ask, "What are your realistic goals with this speech and would your criticisms be better delivered in private?" A public speech, and if covered by the press, might make for some good soundbites but it may not get the change you want (unless part of an overall strategy of public pressure to enact change).

But yes, to your first question. The management talks have been mostly around sales conferences to give motivational updates to the team on that year's plan for sales.

Frankfusion5 karma

What's the best way to include humor in a speech? Also what have been some of your favorite acceptance speeches from award shows?

Eddie-Rice-Author14 karma

For humor, my main advice is to not force it with with bad one liners and jokes found on the internet. People know those already. Instead, uncover the humor naturally in the stories you tell. Find funny situations and talk about those, the humor will follow from your retelling.

If you want to improve your own comedic skills, I recommend Judy Carter's New Comedy Bible.

expensive_bones4 karma


Eddie-Rice-Author9 karma

Ha, the majority of them, especially at weddings are snoozefests. I'm hoping to make the world a bit better with my guide. But yes, I know of some wedding couples who have done away with toasts entirely at their wedding. However, I think when kept at 5 minutes and under and focused on one great story, you can't go too wrong with a toast.

expensive_bones6 karma


Eddie-Rice-Author4 karma

Flying a bit too close to the truth with that one.

mohmar20104 karma

Most famous speech you've written?

Eddie-Rice-Author14 karma

Argh, all under NDAs. But I've had some TEDx talks that have done really well. A few commencement speeches for top tier colleges as well.

Jamballls3 karma

I'm getting married later this year and my fiance and I have decided to do a joint speech. How do you feel about a joint speech at a wedding? Any tips/pointers for us? Any pointers for me as the groom.? Thanks

Eddie-Rice-Author8 karma

Interesting idea--I love it. I would work to balance it out between you ahead of time--definitely write it together. The goal for you both will be to show gratitude to everyone who came. While I'm not a fan of a speech being all "thank-yous" you'll want to make sure that you thank the major VIPs who had a role in the wedding (planning, paying for it, etc.).

Since many weddings have plenty of speakers, I would aim to keep your part short--no more than 7 minutes or 10 minutes. 10 is pushing it, IMHO.

Specific tips, maybe answer some of the following questions in your toast:

  1. To whom are you grateful and why?
  2. What message do you want to send to guests who traveled from far away?
  3. Is there anyone who has passed on whose memory you want to preserve?
  4. Who was instrumental in getting the wedding put together? Who went above and beyond?
  5. What will you remember and cherish most about this day?

FTWJenn3 karma

How does one get in a field like speechwriting? I have a Bachelor's in Creative Writing and Master's in English Education. I am transitioning careers after 13 years of teaching high school English and have taught persuasive writing and speeches during that time.

Eddie-Rice-Author4 karma

Great background, it would serve you well if that's the path you wanted to pursue as a freelancer. Check a few of the threads farther up and I've outlined some advice that's worked for me. In short, build a portfolio then learn how to get traffic to a website. Convert that traffic into an email list and sell to your list.

chonjungi3 karma

Advice on how to become a freelance speechwriter?

Eddie-Rice-Author4 karma

Sure, you can view the thread above for freelance advice. But the key is to have a strong writing background and to get a few sample speeches under your belt. It depends on what type of speeches you want to do. An easy way, if you're good with politics, is to volunteer on local campaigns and help candidates with their stump speeches. This will probably be for no pay at first but once you have a portfolio of speeches you can present those to interested clients for pay. I don't like doing spec work but sometimes it's the only path to getting your very first few portfolio pieces. Once you have 2-3, start asking for paid work with your work as proof of your skills. Otherwise, look for opportunities on freelance writing sites to build up a portfolio. Then of course, build your own website or pay to have it built--lots of great models if you google "Freelance speechwriter" or "freelance writer."

weird_f3lla3 karma

Hi, how did you start out in this line of work? Was it through political campaigns, or anything else? I come from a legal background, and I wish to check out fields in which I can transfer the skills I have learnt in law school.

Eddie-Rice-Author7 karma

I fell into it after teaching 8th grade science for 5 years. I realized that wasn't the path I wanted to go down, but due to my classes in college (plenty in rhetoric and philosophy), mock trial experience, and Toastmasters, I found sites similar to Upwork where people needed speeches written and started there. From there, I did do some political campaign work but didn't stick with it as the pay was too low. I focused instead on building my website and email list while focusing on corporate (read paying) clients. Look for opportunities to help people out in their jobs with preparing presentations or other speeches. People will most likely want the help if you ask.

DanaScully_693 karma

I freeze like 75% into my speeches, my mind overwhelmed with the reality and gravity of who is in my audience. It's this weird moment that's kind of out of body, a situational awareness that takes me away from memory recall. Can you talk to me about what's going on here? Thanks!

Eddie-Rice-Author4 karma

I'm not a psychologist and don't propose any psych advice here. To me, it seems that your fight or flight response is in overdrive. Mine has never gotten that far. I know that there are people who take beta blockers (def. not medical advice) to help with anxiety and other weird things their bodies do while public speaking:

IthinkImnutz2 karma

I'm part of a Toastmasters group in the Boston area. Would it be crazy to ask if you would be willing to be a guest speaker via zoom sometime?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Sure, DM me or email me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). Sounds like fun and I'm also a part of Toastmasters.

ThickEconomics19532 karma

I wonder what was the most boring occasion you had to write a speech about?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

I've had a few conferences where I didn't know the source material well. What I thought was going to be boring--supply chain innovation--turned out to be quite interesting. However, the most boring topic had to have been healthcare administration. We're talking a very large healthcare company and their plans for the year. It was hard to personalize given the boundaries for what could and couldn't be said--super strict.

squirrelsareus1 karma

What books do you recommend for a beginner speech writer ?

Eddie-Rice-Author5 karma

The Political Speechwriter's Companion by Robert Lehrman

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

Speech anthologies--any of them--just read great speeches

Watch great TED talks online

KoreanBoi32131 karma

Best books or sources to learn what you do?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

The Political Speechwriter's Companion by Robert Lehrman

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

Speech anthologies--any of them--just read great speeches

Watch great TED talks online

Rob_T_Firefly1 karma

At breakfast do you prefer your toast light or dark, and what's your favorite topping?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Light toast, strawberry jam, and butter. I was wondering when we'd get the real questions about toasts!

tucker_frump1 karma

How about an opening dialogue, a continuing monologue, a story for say a play? Does that count as a speech?

I am always open for advice.

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Yeah, roughly those would fall under the "speech" category if said by one character intended as a speech. I think of Shakespeare's monologues and those would definitely count.

JSP04211 karma

How do you suggest someone get started in the freelance speechwriting space?

Eddie-Rice-Author6 karma

Answered similar questions but can summarize:

  1. Build a portfolio of sample writing and speeches
  2. Create a website
  3. Learn SEO and traffic building mechanisms (guest posting, podcast guesting, etc.)
  4. Build an email list
  5. Do great work and ask for referrals

chocolatechipbookie1 karma

I've actually been on the lookout for classes, courses, or even books on how to write speeches. Besides your book, are there any texts or resources you'd recommend for learning how to get started in this space?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

The Political Speechwriter's Companion by Robert Lehrman

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

Speech anthologies--any of them--just read great speeches

Watch great TED talks online

I'd also add the Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo as well.

Hes-behind-you1 karma

I would love to gain experience in this field. How did you get into this area of writing? Was it purely right place, right time and you fell into it or did you specialise? Sorry of this has already been asked. Thanks from lIreland.

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Already answered above in various places--right place, right time, didn't specialize. I like writing a variety of speeches.

finalmattasy1 karma

Sibboleth or shibboleth?

Eddie-Rice-Author3 karma

Sibboleth or shibboleth?

Is this a West Wing reference? I remember an episode with "Shibboleth" in the title. If not, I don't have a good answer for you except what a Google search has turned up:

the-watch-dog1 karma

Hate to be reductive, but what would you say to: “when in doubt, just _________” for writing a speech you’re either struggling with or don’t have much time to write?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

I would say, "compose out loud." Instead of sitting down to write at the keyboard, record yourself out loud saying what you want to say. Then either transcribe the notes yourself or use or for transcription. Then clean up what you have said on the paper.

carlos_the_dwarf_1 karma

Do you struggle with writers block? Or do you ever have a tough time thinking of something original for, say, a wedding, where the template is familiar?

Eddie-Rice-Author3 karma

Oh yes, plenty of times. When I'm stuck, I tend to walk around a room a lot and speak the speech aloud. I look a bit nuts doing it but it works. The movement combined with talking out loud helps form the ideas for what I want to say as opposed to silently typing away.

johngreenink1 karma

Are you also a good public speaker? And follow-up: If you are, what do you do (have you done) to stop vocal static like saying "Uh," or "Uhm" while speaking?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

I'm OK at public speaking--not amazing, not terrible. It's something that I'm working towards by going back to Toastmasters.

For ums and ahs--the first step is to notice that you're doing it. Play a speech back on a recording to hear yourself and see how many you catch. Make it a game to commit fewer each time.

Pause instead of saying 'um' and 'ah.' Filler words are our brain's way of finding the next thing to say. Try pausing more often throughout your speech while you search for the next thing to say.

Prepare--the more you've prepared your speech, the less likely you'll go into um and ah mode. Your brain won't be searching for material as much if you are more prepared.

cpt_bongwater1 karma

Whats your advice for graduation speeches?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Talk about gratitude--to whom are you grateful for being up on the stage?

Watch other graduation speeches that you like on YouTube and break down what you liked most about them--did the speaker share a personal story? How did they tell that story? What references did the speaker make to the graduating class? Was the advice original or cliche?

sky2k11 karma

I struggle with transitions from one major topic to another -- what's your advice how to become better at that?

Eddie-Rice-Author3 karma

You can do a few things: First, plan in the transitions by purposeful including words like first, second, third, or summarizing a point and saying, the next thing I'd like to discuss....

Or you can simply add in more pauses where a transition word would typically go. I do this myself with large sections of speeches where I don't have a good transition word to use.

It might look like this:

Topic 1
<Pause 3 seconds>
Topic 2


Topic 1
Summary of Topic 1
Now that I've discussed Topic 1, I'd like to move on to talk about Topic 2

Brokengraphite1 karma

What word(s) should I delete from my vocabulary?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

This is hard to answer as I don't know how you speak. Some people can use any word in an endearing or unique way. If you keep getting feedback on your writing from teachers or professors to eliminate certain words, I'd go that route.

For me, I don't like words that end in -ization if there's a shorter word that could be used. For example: utilization vs. use

I also try to get my clients away from using lots of acronyms and jargon in their speeches. Those words tend to exclude and are hard to understand unless fluent in that "language."

Practical_Cod_60741 karma

I’m funny in person but when I write it doesn’t translate well. How can I include humor and keep it professional?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Look for the humor inherent in a story or situation. Rather than try to crack a joke, try telling a funny story instead. See if that changes the delivery. I also like Judy Carter's New Comedy Bible if you're trying to work in more humor to your life. While it's bent towards standups, the lessons in it could be applied to presentations.

ornirus1 karma

Do you include breaks, which words to stress or any other kind of cues in the speeches you write? Are there differences between writing real speeches and fictional ones for books? Do you write jokes in your speeches when appropriate, and if so, do you ever have to come up with them yourself when working for a client? I swear last question: How does copyright/ownership work with your speeches? Do you ever get given credit for them? Specifically for including them in published works. Thank you for doing this AMA and answering the questions! :D

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

  1. Yes tons of line breaks throughout my speeches--they almost look like poems but that helps with the rhythm and readability.
  2. I haven't had to write a speech for inclusion in a fiction book--some of the rules would be same--rhythm, have a point, stir the emotions of the audience, etc.
  3. Humor is something I'm working on, usually the speaker comes up with a good line and we figure out a good place to use it. Other times, the speaker has a funny story and we include that.
  4. All my work is "work for hire," so copyright transfers to the client upon completion of the work/final payment. If I want to use a speech again for my portfolio or to be referenced somewhere, I need to seek written permission from the client. It's been 50/50 on whether they'll grant it.

JustMakeMarines1 karma

Do you think opening speeches with a joke is a good idea? I heard that advice many times but I've typically seen good success with just a warm hello and a narrative introduction explaining the purpose/thesis.

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

I generally stay away from telling jokes in the opening. It's cliche speech public speaking advice. I'd start with a story instead. Even funny stories, if they don't land, are still somewhat entertaining--the audience may take them as more dramatic. Usually starting with a joke creates part of a speech that isn't connected to any other and that's why it comes off as irrelevant (plus the speaker's delivery isn't always the greatest).

Asksaboutducks1 karma

Do you like ducks?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Is this about to become the duck fighting question so common to most AMAs? Bring it on if so.

Asksaboutducks1 karma

This is just what I ask on this account. Asking people about ducks. And sometimes they share there experiences which is always nice. And if people copy me it might be more places. But I would still be happy, because people are spreading the love of ducks!

Eddie-Rice-Author5 karma

All right. Overall, very positive experience with ducks. Geese on the other hand are trouble. No real run-ins with them but they are always staring me down outside of my coworking space.

RoguePlanet11 karma

So you've never had to duck as a result of something you said during a speech? That is positive.

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

Ha ha! Nope, never had to. I keep my stuff clean and don't pull too many punches.

funkychunkyenema1 karma

How do you ask for/get constructive criticism on ‘difficult’ subjects?

I ask because I gave a victim impact statement in front of my abuser in court a couple of years ago but all of the feedback I got beforehand about what I was going to say was 100% positive. I understand that people want to be as supportive as possible but how do you differentiate the objective?

Eddie-Rice-Author5 karma

This is tough because in your situation it's quite possible that people were afraid to say anything negative. For long term feedback, I'd do Toastmasters as you'll get actionable advice from people who aren't afraid to speak their mind. TM is a public speaking group that meets on a weekly basis and you do prepared and impromptu speeches with them.

Another way is to create a prompt that could help with the feedback process. I often hand people a sheet of paper with a + sign on one side and a delta (for change) sign on the other. This gives people two columns for positive feedback and feedback for change. It helps because space is given for the constructive part and people feel more comfortable giving it with space provided.

jajunior00 karma

Do you have any job for me?

Eddie-Rice-Author2 karma

I don't at the moment. I have a pretty solid network of writers that I refer work out to. They are mainly longtime colleagues. You may want to try to see if there are speechwriting opportunities.