Subscribe: Rob Cottingham
http://www.robcottingham.ca/feed/
Preview: Rob Cottingham

Rob Cottingham



Leadership communications



Last Build Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2018 20:43:27 +0000

 



The Cicero Awards: a rare chance for speechwriters to shine

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 06:42:51 +0000

Let’s face it, speechwriters: we’re a hide-in-the-shadows, cheer-from-the-wings kind of bunch. Our work involves helping someone else be at their best on stage. Chasing the spotlight ourselves? Not our thing. But there’s an exception. The Cicero Speechwriting Awards are one of the very few opportunities speechwriters have to get some real recognition for their very […]

The post The Cicero Awards: a rare chance for speechwriters to shine appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Common myths about speechwriting

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 20:29:01 +0000

Myth: "Speechwriting is a dark and mysterious art, known only to a handful of monks who live in a subterranean lair deep under an extinct volcano. There, they gather under each blood moon to add a single new member to their number, and — in exchange for her or his soul — they divulge the […]

The post Common myths about speechwriting appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




How to lift a speech from the page

Tue, 30 Jan 2018 23:25:14 +0000

“Put me up on stage in front of a microphone to speak off the cuff, and I do great,” one of my workshop participants said not long ago, as we talked about speech delivery. “But give me a written speech to read and I just go dead,” he added, slumping in his chair to underline […]

The post How to lift a speech from the page appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Getting better feedback

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:56:01 +0000

“Could you read this?” a friend asked me, handing over the manuscript for his novel. “I’d love your feedback.” So I did. I read all 200 pages and made detailed notes about story, character and voice. How the dramatic structure needed tightening, the personal stakes needed to be higher, the protagonist needed a lot more […]

The post Getting better feedback appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Challenge, call, recipe, reward: How to write the conclusion of your speech

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 21:42:45 +0000

Conclusions are one of the hardest parts of a speech to write. Here’s an approach to bringing any speech to a graceful end with an inspiring call to action.

The post Challenge, call, recipe, reward: How to write the conclusion of your speech appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Don’t make your audience unsubscribe from your speech

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:19:06 +0000

I just sent this in response to “Why are you unsubscribing from us?” (on the third screen you had to click through to unsubscribe): The constant stream of “ALERT!” “URGENT” and other messages just got too much. If everything is urgent, then nothing is. I know the data says it works, and I’m sure it […]

The post Don’t make your audience unsubscribe from your speech appeared first on Rob Cottingham.













Wrapping up my first Facebook Live speechwriting clinic

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:46:13 +0000

Thanks to everyone who joined me this morning for my first official Facebook Live speechwriting clinic. (I say “official” because I’ve done a few impromptu runs at this in the past. Let’s define “official” as “I gave people some warning and made a custom graphic for it.”) We covered a lot of ground in our […]

The post Wrapping up my first Facebook Live speechwriting clinic appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Join me for a speechwriting clinic on Facebook Live: Friday, April 7

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 18:42:33 +0000

Got a burning speechwriting question, a leadership communications dilemma or a public speaking conundrum? I’ll be taking all comers in a Facebook Live speechwriting clinic this Friday, April 7 at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. RSVP here so I’ll know how much virtual potato salad to make. Then come on by on Friday, and […]

The post Join me for a speechwriting clinic on Facebook Live: Friday, April 7 appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Speaking at a rally? Here’s how to make it count.

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:05:28 +0000

If you work with a mission-driven organization, you may find yourself speaking at a political rally soon. (Maybe sooner than you think, the way things are going.) You may be there to offer a short greeting and encouragement, or to deliver a rousing featured address, or something in between. Either way, there’s a lot you […]

The post Speaking at a rally? Here’s how to make it count. appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




The authoritarian story behind Donald Trump’s inaugural address

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 06:16:01 +0000

Last week, the good folks at Global’s BC1 news channel asked for my analysis of Donald Trump’s inaugural address. You’ll probably be less than surprised to learn I wasn’t a fan… and not just because it was pretty tedious.

The post The authoritarian story behind Donald Trump’s inaugural address appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Leaders and communicators: please stop saying “health outcomes”

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:11:43 +0000

The politician I saw on TV yesterday morning clearly wanted to convey his earnest concern over an issue with ambulance delays. He was doing a pretty good job, too…right up to the point where he said his goal was “positive health outcomes.” Oof. Few areas offer the chance to connect emotionally to an audience than health. […]

The post Leaders and communicators: please stop saying “health outcomes” appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




The danger of “but.” The power of “and.”

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 18:46:11 +0000

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted something that, on the face of it, looks perfectly reasonable for a left-wing political leader to say: Yes, we need more candidates of diversity, but we also need candidates? ?to be fighters for the working class. https://t.co/561r5qBjfC — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 23, 2016 The fact that Sanders says but […]

The post The danger of “but.” The power of “and.” appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Stuck for a beginning to your speech? Here are 13 quick ways to get moving.

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 02:23:43 +0000

Figuring out how your speech is going to start stymies a lot of writers. I’ve spent too many hours staring at the blank screen, starting a paragraph, backspacing, starting again, backspacing, doing the dishes, starting a paragraph, backspacing… It’s one of the reasons I’m a fan of starting to write your speech at the end, […]

The post Stuck for a beginning to your speech? Here are 13 quick ways to get moving. appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Communicators, it’s time to end audience abuse.

Fri, 10 Jun 2016 18:49:05 +0000

Audience abuse comes in many forms. It happens in speeches. An unprepared speaker who just can’t communicate. A bait-and-switch session that doesn’t deliver what it promised. A speaker who spends their time pitching themselves. A speaker who leaves you cheering… until you realize they said nothing of substance. Presentations that choose the path of least […]

The post Communicators, it’s time to end audience abuse. appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




A speechwriting lesson from House of Cards

Tue, 07 Jun 2016 17:24:48 +0000

I’m (finally) watching the convention episode (“Chapter 48”) of season 4 of House of Cards. And early on, there’s a great exchange between a new speechwriter and the pair of writers who’ve been with the Underwoods from the beginning. They complain about his revisions to the convention speech: “You changed everything we wrote.” “There was no imagination […]

The post A speechwriting lesson from House of Cards appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Speaker as performer: Michael Port’s “Steal the Show”

Sat, 28 May 2016 00:33:55 +0000

When I coach speakers, there are many moments that feel like breakthroughs. When they show a little vulnerability, and share something of themselves. Or when they internalize the text of a speech well enough to hit every point effortlessly. But few moments give me the joy and satisfaction of seeing a speaker breach the barrier […]

The post Speaker as performer: Michael Port’s “Steal the Show” appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Speechwriting mistakes: four ways I screwed up (so you don’t have to)

Fri, 15 Apr 2016 16:33:49 +0000

I’d love to tell you that every speech I’ve written has been a roaring success, that every word was purest gold and that I never once face-planted into the metaphorical pavement. Or that yeah, I did screw up, but it was only once. Or only twice. But the truth is, I’ve made plenty of speechwriting […]

The post Speechwriting mistakes: four ways I screwed up (so you don’t have to) appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Writing to be heard: a key to speechwriting

Thu, 07 Apr 2016 23:58:34 +0000

Wil Wheaton recently posted something to Medium, and it’s well worth reading on its own merits. But one passage jumped out at me in particular, and it’s one crucial key to speechwriting: Please note that I wrote this to be spoken/performed, and it may not translate 100% to the written form. The piece itself (both as a […]

The post Writing to be heard: a key to speechwriting appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Speaking from half a world away: Edward Snowden on big data, security and privacy

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 16:57:05 +0000

Last night, I joined hundreds of other Vancouverites at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for an evening with Edward Snowden. For more than an hour, the intelligence-contractor-turned-whistleblower spoke to us via videoconference. He was articulate, quietly passionate and completely focused…at 5:00 a.m. Moscow time. Set aside for a moment the substance of his talk. Just consider […]

The post Speaking from half a world away: Edward Snowden on big data, security and privacy appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Will Donald Trump kill speechwriting? (Spoiler: no.)

Mon, 04 Apr 2016 16:56:29 +0000

A few months before the GOP convention, the leading contender for the party’s presidential nomination is Donald Trump: a man who draws huge, rapturous crowds… yet delivers long, rambling speeches that are apparently entirely off the cuff. Now, let’s be clear: there’s a lot more on the line here than what that means for speechwriters. (For instance, I […]

The post Will Donald Trump kill speechwriting? (Spoiler: no.) appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Translating client feedback: What they say vs. what they want

Wed, 16 Mar 2016 16:03:30 +0000

One of your most important skills as a speechwriter is listening to your client when they give you feedback. That often means hearing past their words, to what they’re actually saying… and it almost always means probing more deeply for the real issue behind a comment or request. Here’s a little translation help – some of […]

The post Translating client feedback: What they say vs. what they want appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Maybe speechwriting doesn’t matter so much after all..?

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 17:00:56 +0000

You’ve probably heard speeches you’d swear were content-free. Here’s one that actually is — and it’s a TEDx talk. Beneath that hollow exterior lurks actual content: a pretty devastating critique of how a thin speech can inflate its apparent substance using the TEDx style. Maybe if Will Stephen’s performance reaches a wide enough audience (and […]

The post Maybe speechwriting doesn’t matter so much after all..? appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




The Presentation Audience’s Bill of Rights

Fri, 04 Mar 2016 05:26:58 +0000

WHEREAS life is short and our time on Earth is finite; WHEREAS the duration of a bad presentation is subjectively many times longer than that of a good one; WHEREAS the dedication of audience’s time and attention to a speaker is a gift of considerable value, not to be taken lightly; THEREFORE we solemnly declare […]

The post The Presentation Audience’s Bill of Rights appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




When your audience isn’t feeling the Bern

Mon, 22 Feb 2016 15:49:11 +0000

This weekend, Bernie Sanders spoke to a predominantly African-American audience at the dining room of a South Carolina church. According to this account, the response from the mealtime crowd was tepid: polite clapping for all but a couple of lines. We’re used to reading about packed stadiums roaring their approval for Mr. Sanders’ stump speech. […]

The post When your audience isn’t feeling the Bern appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




The Pigeon of Dorian Gray, and why you should throw it off the fire escape

Fri, 19 Feb 2016 08:08:07 +0000

Early in my speechwriting career, I was writing for a political candidate. It began with a few weeks of straight-up euphoria. Great news coverage. Enthusiastic volunteers. Support and donations rolling in. (And I got to use state-of-the-art technology: a Compaq luggable computer, with a tiny amber-coloured screen. Imagine the form factor of a classic Star […]

The post The Pigeon of Dorian Gray, and why you should throw it off the fire escape appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Illuminate: the exciting new book from Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez

Thu, 18 Feb 2016 20:05:01 +0000

There’s a new book out this week from Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez, and I’m pretty excited. Ms. Duarte’s earlier books Slideology and Resonate changed the way I think about presentations and speaking. They breathed new life into the three-act structure, and gave us a valuable tool for analyzing speeches. And her idea of the STAR moment […]

The post Illuminate: the exciting new book from Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez appeared first on Rob Cottingham.




Capturing a speaker’s voice matters

Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:04:19 +0000

This post argues that speechwriters shouldn’t worry about capturing a speaker’s voice. Structure the speech well, Mike Long argues, and it’ll all come out in the wash. And while I understand that all the tailored turns of phrase in the world can’t save a bad speech, or turn a mediocre speaker into a great one, I […]

The post Capturing a speaker’s voice matters appeared first on Rob Cottingham.