Advice from Peggy Noonan:"The most moving thing in a speech is its logic. It's not the flowery words or flourishes, it's not the sentimental exhortations, it's never the faux poetry we're all subjected to these days. It's the logic behind your case. A good case well argued and well said is inherently moving. It shows respect for the brains of the listeners. There is an implicit compliment in it. It shows you're a serious person and understand that you are talking to other serious people. No speech should last more than 20 minutes. Why? Because Ronald Reagan said so. Reagan used to say that no one wants to sit in an audience in respectful silence for longer than that, if that. He knew 20 minutes was more than enough time to say the biggest, most important thing in the world. The Gettysburg Address went five minutes, the Sermon on the Mount probably the same. Some communications professionals will tell you there are specific gestures to use when you make a speech, particular ways to move your hands or use your voice. I do not think this counsel helpful. Be yourself in your presentation, because although there have already been Vince Lombardis and Dan Rathers and Jesse Jacksons, there has never been a you before. So you might as well be you and have a good time. Authenticity isn't just half the battle, it's a real achievement."
Peggy Noonan is an author of seven books on politics, religion and culture, a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and was a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. She is considered a political conservative.
Well written, excellent tips, and an interesting historical insight into the workings of Office of the President. Noonan takes some of the great speeches of the 20th century and provides commentary of what works and what does not.
I particularly enjoyed her eyewitness account to how the speech President Reagan gave after the Challenger disaster and Noonan account of the prayer breakfast where Mother Teresa spoke.
My favorite quote "No speech should last more than 20 minutes. Why? Because Ronald Reagan said so. Reagan used to say that no one wants to sit in an audience in respectful silence for longer than that, if that. He knew 20 minutes was more than enough time to say the biggest, most important thing in the world. The Gettysburg Address went five minutes, the Sermon on the Mount probably the same."
Each new Toastmasters member should get this book with their Competent Communicator manual to learn to become great at public speaking.
This is a wonderful and simple book by a wonderful and simple writer. Peggy Noonan is the one writer on the Wall Street Journal staff with a distinctive voice and a gentle way.
As a political columnist, Noonan is as good as they come. She is the rarest of things among political commentators: persuasive.
Where Maureen Dowd is scornful and Charles Krauthammer is concussive and George Will is stern, Noonan is gentle and intelligent and, once more, persuasive. She is perhaps the only weekly columnist with a chance of changing a reader's mind.
This book is not about column writing but about speech writing. Noonan worked for Ronald Reagan and George Bush and Oprah Winfrey and numerous others. Her book is a wandering speech of its own, defining the rules and tricks she writes about, even as you read them.
If there is a secret to Noonan's gentle magic, it's this: Write to your friends. Once a speech writer or novelist or columnist or, I suppose, poet, has reached a certain level of proficiency, the last proverbial mile is tone and texture. So many otherwise talented writers never figure this out.
To return to the above-cited columnists, Will writes to subjects. Krauthammer writes at enemies. And Dowd writes past ex-boyfriends. Noonan, meanwhile, writes to her friends.
Among this book's many other insights, there's this: The most persuasive part of any written or spoken work of any kind is its underlying logic. Without that, without the hard mental work of organizing one's way into coherence, all the words in the world are just static. Even efforts to portray incoherence fail when they are fundamentally incoherent. Audiences, it seems, want to sympathize more than empathize.
This book is worth the short time it takes to read for any writer or speaker of any kind - just like the rest of Noonan's work.
the best book I ever found to teach public speaking, which I taught to adults who needed the skill in their work. The testimonies were amazing, from a dreadfully shy man to a garrolous woman to many in between. Everyone learned much that improved their communication skills. Exceellent!
Bought this book about 30 years ago after I had heard her speak. Found it on the bookshelf about a week ago and had to read it. Well, I wasn't disappointed. It turned out to be a very interesting and positive read. Interestingly, I have employed a majority of her advice over the years learned in the school of hard knocks. The salient part for me was her going through some great speeches and explaining the wherewithal. She is a realist and genuine in her approach. Could I have done better if I had read this book earlier- surely. Would I have listened to her advice and followed it, maybe. Young whippersnappers have to fail themselves. This book would have been useful adjunctive reading in a public speaking class where it could be discussed. This was a good read.