WatkisListen to this interview with speechwriter and speaker John Watkis, who compares an effective speech to music. No, you don’t have to be Joni Mitchell or Stevie Wonder to succeed as a speechwriter. Even if you don’t know a sharp from a flat, in this 24-minute podcast, you’ll pick up tips from John that will improve your ability to write a speech and deliver it too.

Listen and then let me know what you think!
You can download the show right here or subscribe through iTunes.

Here are the show notes:
Comment line 206-338-4200
[00:01] Intro and welcome
[00:54] About today’s guest, John Watkis
[01:38] About John’s recent speech to the Halton-Peel Communications Association; we’re both IABC members
[03:00] John compares a good speech to music
[04:10] Chorus helps you remember; great speeches repeat main point or chorus; verses expand on chorus; need transitions or interludes
[05:17] Huge difference between writing for the ear and the eye; John explains this distinction
[07:10] Example of chorus: Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and its repetition of the words free, freedom and liberty
[08:50] Can anyone develop an ear for writing speeches?
[10:18] What if the speech is well written but the delivery is poor?
[11:44] Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect; you need honest feedback
[13:00] How John became a successful speaker: practice
[14:15] John’s upcoming speaking dates at the North York Chamber of Commerce (May 18, 2007) and Association of Independent Consultants (May 28)
[14:35] International audience of Trafcom News; this interview was inspired by Paull Young’s comment on Donna’s blog
[15:10] Links to John’s podcasts: Watkis Words of Wisdom, Entrepreneur Exclusive, Successful Speeches
[18:42] Where to send comments: email to donna@trafcom.com, call the comment line at 206-338-4200 or post a message to the Trafcom News Podcast blog
[19:40] Comment from Dave Williams
[21:00] Comment from Luke Armour
Links to Luke’s parody podcasts: Virtual PR Geek Dinner, Virtual PR Murder Mystery
Look for the Trafcom News Podcast on Blubrry.com
Theme music is “Beneath Your Surface” by the Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet from the Podsafe Music Network


  1. Hi Donna,

    Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your show. As always, you did a wonderful job conducting the interview and producing a professional sounding podcast. Keep up the great work!

  2. Hi Donna and John — as a podcaster, broadcaster and amateur musician, I really resonated to the things you said.

    First of all, a lot of the things that were discussed were right out of “Writing for Radio 101” .. lessons I have heard many times before and always need reminding of. Good to see this .. because despite podcasting being different than broadcasting, there are also a lot of similarities. Attention to some of the tried and true methodologies is a good thing.

    The point about musicality of the voice was profound … many of the best broadcasters I have met also sing or play instruments. The attention to rhythm, timbre, dynamic range and powers of emotive expression come naturally to people who are naturally musical.

    I am also a firm believer that ALL of us are naturally musical … we just need to discover it. So the best ways to develop your innate musical sensibilities is to play music. Don’t be afraid — even picking up a small percussion instrument or singing a simple tune will help you get in touch with your own inner musicality.

    Your voice is the most intimate of musical instruments … so get to know it. You’ll find yourself in touch with a power much greater than you thought you had.

    Get into the rhythm, get into the flow ..
    your enhanced abilities will translate not just to your speeches, but your everyday communication, no matter who you’re talking to and in what situation.


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