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Cover Image: The Political Speechwriter's Companion: A Guide for Writers and Speakers
  • Date: 10/27/2009
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $49.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-60426-549-1
  • Pages: 293
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The Political Speechwriter's Companion: A Guide for Writers and Speakers
Robert A. Lehrman, American University

Other guides on public speaking focus on how to convey knowledge or understanding. While it is useful to master such informative speech, other goals and strategies are essential for a politician: publicity, for one. To communicate optimism, to rely on material written by others, to speak repeatedly, day in and day out. Above all, politicians need to persuade their audiences. They can use facts or appeal to values, but in the end, they must urge action. Politicians are advocates.

Robert Lehrman, former speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, offers both speakers and writers the LAWS of political speech. He explains how speakers can deliver:
• Language the audience will understand and remember,
• Anecdotes that make listeners laugh and cry,
• Wit that pokes fun at opponents but also shows their own lighter side, and
• Support in the way of statistics, examples, and testimony.

With how-to guidance in each chapter—including annotated speeches—Lehrman shows how to apply the LAWS at every step, even providing an entire chapter on delivery. Lehrman also opens up his Rolodex to readers, interviewing speechwriting luminaries who offer up their best advice in a “Behind the Scenes” feature. “As Delivered” boxes point to Web links for watching notable speeches, while a handy “Speechwriter’s Checklist” concludes every chapter.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Why Speechwriting Matters

1. The Political Speech
2. Persuasion
3. Audiences
4. Research
5. Structure

6. Language People Understand
7. Language People Remember
8. Anecdote
9. Wit
10. Support

11. Beginnings
12. Presenting the Problem
13. Solutions
14. Writing Conclusions


15. A Speech Revisited
16. Speechwriting and Ethics
17. The Uneasy Partnership
18. Final Words

Appendix: Speech formats for every occasion


”Stunning, thoughtful, and original. Whether you hold office or work for someone who does, you should read -- and learn from -- this book by one of America's best speechwriters.”

- Samuel Berger, Chair, Stonebridge International, National Security Adviser to president Bill Clinton (1996-2001)

“This book is a must-read for speechwriters and speakers at any stage in their communication career.”

- Andrew D. Wolvin, University of Maryland and author of The Public Speaker / The Public Listener

“The elements of good speech writing are all here—structure, clarity, delivery, persuasion, humor, and leaving your audience with a memorable close. Bob wrote speeches for me when I was the Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. He made me a far better speaker. My audiences were happier and so was I.”

- David Bonior, U.S. Representative (D-Mich., 1976–2003)

“I keep Bob’s book on my shelf, next to Bartlett’s.”

- Alex Castellanos, Partner, National Media Inc. and CNN Commentator

“As former speechwriter myself, I learned new insights and angles from every page, and there's nothing else like it out there. It belongs in every political classroom, office, and campaign.”

- Professor Leonard Steinhorn, American University and author of The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy

“This book raises the craft of speechwriting to a public art form, and shows how great speeches, delivered by Republicans and Democrats alike, have moved the nation.”

- Noam Neusner, Principal, 30 Point Strategies and Speechwriter to President George W. Bush (2001–2003)

“Bob Lehrman attaches method to the madness and rhythm to the rigor--while reminding us why this profession can be endlessly stimulating and just plain fun. Bob's book is indispensible.”

- Michael Long, Director, White House Writers Group and Speechwriter to U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)

“Bob Lehrman has packed a career’s worth of oratorical knowledge into this indispensable guidebook.”

- Terry Edmonds, Chief Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton (1998-2001)

“Robert Lehrman knows how to make words pop and sizzle.” - Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post

“There’s a reason that Robert Lehrman is the first phone call I make when I have an important speech to give. He’s poured the thoughtfulness, passion, and expertise he brings to every speech into this invaluable resource.”

- Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice
Robert A. Lehrman, American University
Robert A. Lehrman served as Chief Speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore and, in 2004, as Chief Speechwriter for the Democratic National Committee during his more than three decades of experience writing speeches. He has written for political figures, celebrities, heads of nonprofits, and corporate CEOs, most recently as speechwriter to the Chairman and CEO of Pfizer. He created and co-teaches the political speechwriting course at American University, where he was awarded the 2010 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He speaks often at other campuses, conferences, and associations, on the topic of political speechwriting. Author of a number of award-winning novels and coauthor of a highly acclaimed non-fiction book for young adults, Lehrman has a B.A. from Tufts University and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop, where he studied with Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Yates
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