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Ep. 42. Speechwriters of the world, unite! Creating communities of practice: interview with Elana Aptowitzer

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

Release Date: 08/06/2019

Ep. 47. Careful with that spotlight! show art Ep. 47. Careful with that spotlight!

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

As leaders, it can be tempting to forget that not everyone likes being the centre of attention. And when you have an audience, you can all too easily throw a harsh, unforgiving spotlight onto someone who isn't ready for it. This episode, we look at how to wield your audience's attention responsibly, whether it's from the stage or online. Links: Skip Weisman was kind enough to let me share his story with you. https://www.yourchampionshipcompany.com/ Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee Rosevere...

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Ep. 46. Ep. 46. "Long Shot" and why speakers and speechwriters need some one-on-one time

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

This summer’s film Long Shot is an entire movie about how speechwriter and speaker relate to each other. And it has something to teach us about making that relationship work — and how the key ingredient is time. If you're thinking of catching it, the movie's a lot of fun, even if (or probably because) it isn't exactly a documentary portrayal of political speechwriting. Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen are great, and their chemistry is super (although, ahem, that's a line I don't recommend speechwriters cross with their clients). Links: Most important, props to Long Shot's writers, Dan...

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Ep. 45. What HBO can teach us about how NOT to write a speech show art Ep. 45. What HBO can teach us about how NOT to write a speech

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

What does a speech look like stripped of the craft of speechwriting? HBO's hit show Succession gave us a glimpse with a hilarious eulogy delivered by character Connor Roy... and in the process, helps speechwriters and speakers avoid delivering dull, lifeless speeches. Links: Here's that eulogy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEdOB9OIh70. Succession on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/succession. The writing credits for that episode of Succession go to series creator Jesse Armstrong (https://twitter.com/jessearmstrong1), writer Georgia Pritchett (https://twitter.com/georgiapudding) and story editor...

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Ep. 44. Speakers, have a seat (in the audience) show art Ep. 44. Speakers, have a seat (in the audience)

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

You can write a speech for a someone. Read it through. Rehearse with the speaker. But you won’t really know how effective it is unless you’re there when they deliver it. This episode: why speechwriters should fight for a spot in the audience, and how to use it to write better speeches. Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee Rosevere (https://leerosevere.bandcamp.com/) including "You're Enough (version a)," "Start the Day" and "Not My Problem." Used under a Creative Commons license. Photo: Jonas Jacobsson on...

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Ep. 43. Ep. 43. "How do you do, fellow kids?" Speaking to young audiences

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

A lot of speakers who'd happily get up in front of a thousand-person audience start getting the shakes at the thought of speaking to children or (gulp) teens. Fortunately, we have child-and-teen author Robin Stevenson here to share her experience speaking in front of countless school auditoriums and classrooms. She'll tell us how you can keep your next young audience rapt from beginning to end. About my guest: Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of 25 books of fiction and nonfiction for kids and teen, including the Stonewall Honor book Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community. Robin...

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Ep. 42. Speechwriters of the world, unite! Creating communities of practice: interview with Elana Aptowitzer show art Ep. 42. Speechwriters of the world, unite! Creating communities of practice: interview with Elana Aptowitzer

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

Writing is usually a pretty solitary pursuit. But solitary doesn’t have to mean isolated. Find out how Elana Aptowitzer created a community of speechwriters inside the Canadian public service — and how you can start building a community of your own. About my guest: Elana Aptowitzer heads up speechwriting at Canada’s Department of National Defence. She launched the federal government's first speechwriters' community of practice, where public service speechwriters can share tools, resources and best practices. In the last three years, she has received several awards for continual...

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Ep. 41. Changing the world... with op-eds show art Ep. 41. Changing the world... with op-eds

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

We’ve focused on speaking and speechwriting in the podcast — but there’s more than one way to connect with an audience. And one of the best: the venerable op-ed piece. About my guest: Today’s guest knows op-eds better than anyone I know: Professor Mira Sucharov is the author of Public Influence, and a prolific writer of op-eds published in such outlets as Haaretz, The Forward, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Citizen, The Daily Beast and Huffington Post. Dr. Sucharov is an associate professor of political science at Carleton University, and the author of several other...

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Ep. 40. Cop an attitude — and take a stand show art Ep. 40. Cop an attitude — and take a stand

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

If you really want your audience to care about what you're saying, they need to know you care about it too. And that starts with the attitude you project... and the stands you're willing to take. Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee Rosevere (https://leerosevere.bandcamp.com/) including "Thought Bubbles," "HEAVN," and "It Was Like That When I Got Here." Used under a Creative Commons license. Lee has released a beautiful album in honour of Apollo 11's 50th anniversary, and you can buy a limited-edition CD. I...

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Ep. 39. Quote me on that show art Ep. 39. Quote me on that

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

Quotations are one of a speechwriter's essential tools — right up there with metaphors, jokes and 3 a.m. espresso. But borrowed eloquence doesn't always work out, and as handy as a quotation can be, using it requires care. This episode looks at how to use quotations to elevate your whole speech, and how another person's fine words can make yours shine even brighter. Links: I mentioned them last time, but here's another link to Quote Investigator — one of the great services of the Internet. And yes, Marlene Dietrich really said that. It's from Marlene Dietrich's ABC: Wit, Wisdom, &...

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Ep. 38. To tell the truth show art Ep. 38. To tell the truth

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

Most of us like to think of ourselves as basically honest people. But as speakers and speechwriters, it's surprisingly easy to find ourselves misleading our audiences: accidentally or (gulp) deliberately. Find out how — even with the best intentions — you may be leading your audience astray... and how to get back onto the path of truth. Warning: Contains traces of scolding and a glancing reference to the current American president. Links: More about Albert Mehrabian and his work on non-verbal communication. And about the aerodynamics of bumblebees. One way that bumblebees definitely can't...

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Writing is usually a pretty solitary pursuit. But solitary doesn’t have to mean isolated. Find out how Elana Aptowitzer created a community of speechwriters inside the Canadian public service — and how you can start building a community of your own.

About my guest: Elana Aptowitzer heads up speechwriting at Canada’s Department of National Defence. She launched the federal government's first speechwriters' community of practice, where public service speechwriters can share tools, resources and best practices.

In the last three years, she has received several awards for continual professional excellence in her demanding role, including the 2019 Emerging Leader award from the Deputy Minister and Chief of the Defence Staff. Elana has taught annual speechwriting seminars at Carleton University for three years, and this year she became a full-time public-servant-in-residence there, developing and teaching a speechwriting training program for fourth-year undergraduate students.

She holds a Masters in Strategic Communications and Speechwriting from American University in Washington, DC.

Links: Dana Rubin runs the 3,000-member-strong Leadership Communications Roundtable on LinkedIn. (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/145130/)

Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/).

Incidental music by Lee Rosevere (https://leerosevere.bandcamp.com/) including "Night Caves" and "Thinking It Over." Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo: Mario Purisic on Unsplash