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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speechwriting Conference



I hope you are all looking forward to the Screenwriters Festival coming up. However I was asked to make a short film about the first ever UK Speechwriters Conference. You can see the final product above.

Some interesting things came out if - which I will share with you here.

Not because may have to make a speech, but because you may have to write a monologue or powerful words in your scripts. I'm thinking here of anything from The Great Dictator to the cheesy bit from Independence Day - or even the voice over from Red in Shawshank Redemption.

These came from Professor Max Atkinson - speech guru - although he may not like that term! He analysed every applause at a political conference that lasted over 8 seconds (the average amount) to see what really worked and got the audience going.

One: Contrast, starting a negative. Best example - Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country Simple to emulate too. As in - You turn back if you want to, the lady's not for turning.

Two: Puzzle, pause, solution. Starting with something that doesn't make sense to get the audience's attention - then offering a captivating solution. What we, in script terms, would call a kind of reveal. This is the kind of technique that can the slightly annoying polite laughter to a conference crowd.

Three: Rule of three. We all know this one anyway. Putting things in threes to make a point Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The longest point normally goes last. An interesting experiment is to try and break this rule in conversation and see what happens. Say two things and people will wait for a third - until you have to say 'and so on'. Say four things and people will interrupt after three. Good laughs.

Four: Combinations of above. Using one that once at a time increased the duration of applause still further.

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