Churchill takes charge

Continuing my review of great, short speeches, I would be remiss if I didn't include English Prime Minister Winston Churchill's address to Parliament on May 13, 1940, just after he had assumed office and in the face of the Nazi aggression.  After some brief opening comments about forming the new government, he gets right down […]

Abraham Lincoln’s Greatest Speech

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brough forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  At just under 250 words, Lincoln's 'Gettysburg Address' packs more greatness in two minutes than any other speech.  Why is it so powerful? The phrasing […]

Commencement Speeches

Tis the season to be wary — of commencement speeches.  We're almost through the danger period for another year, but it doesn't pay to relax your guard too early. I had to write a dozen (that's 12) commencement speeches — on different topics — over 2 summers for the Governor of Virginia when I started […]

How to give a short speech

I often get asked about short speeches, and off-the-cuff remarks.  How do you do them well?  What are the pitfalls to avoid?  It can be surprisingly hard to say something interesting in a very short time, and to avoid running on at the mouth and saying too much.  What's the happy medium, and how do […]