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Speech Writing 1.0: How to come up with Power Phrases like a Leader

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For most of us, public speaking is a deep fear, probably dating back to our first “show and tell” command performance in kindergarten. 

How about being put on the spot as a teacher singled us out in class for not paying attention? Everyone’s gaze would turn to the guilty student, his or her mouth would dry up, the mind would go blank, and the most useless gibberish would be all that issued forth. 

But in the age of internet access to video clips, accurate public speaking becomes really important.  (see our article on public speaking).  One wrong word while adlibbing can cause public embarrassment, outrage or anger.  Sometimes the “gotcha” quote comes while the speaker thought the microphone was off; other times it comes during an impromptu scrum with the press.   For the politician, this can mean votes lost.  For the Corporate spokesperson, this can mean loss of product appeal or stock prices. 

That’s why speech writers are turning to technology of the PPSM (Power Phrase Slot Machine).  Adapted from the familiar casino slot machines, each one comes with a large crank handle, and three little windows.  Instead of triads of fruit symbols, these windows are set for VERB, ADJECTIVE, and NOUN.  Run together, this will create a great power-phrase, which can be inserted anywhere into a speech.  The result is inspirational, cannot offend anyone, and is guaranteed to withstand the scrutiny of YouTube.

The samples below were taken by me at a large corporate convention.  I was booked as the key-note speaker, but first all the vice-presidents  got up to make their inspirational plea to rally the troops.  As I took notes, it became apparent that each power phrase must have been generated by the same PPSM.  While the speaker may have had the aid of the teleprompter to make this all look smooth, we could see where the slot machine was inserted.  The audience was indeed spellbound.

VERB

Input

Reaffirm

Modify

Acknowledge

Agitate

Optimize

Streamline

Compound

Overload

Generalize

Control

Improve

Manage

Leverage

Strategize

Impact

Refine

Expand

Plan

Recommend

Isolate

Maximize

Minimize

Innovate

Maintain

Review

ADJECTIVE

Joint

Strategic

Corporate

Political

Positive

Market-share

Growth

Negative

Positive

Fiscal

Product

Participatory

Monumental

Pro-active

Interdependent

Problematic

Emerging

Working

Attainable

Unique

Market-driven

Insightful

Voter-friendly

Competitive

Tactical

Global

Local

Value-added

 

NOUN

Accountability

Focus

Integrity

Solutions

Leadership

Emphasis

Synergy

Productivity

Options

Effectiveness

Trends

Development

Goals

Activities

Issues

Challenges

Expectations

Analysis

Feedback

Performance

Direction

Partnerships

Excellence

Specifics

Matrix

 

 

 

 

So if we drop in on the rehearsals where the speaker gets to use the real crank-handle, we can see what’s behind all the meaningless gibberish we see on the airwaves.  Make sure you leave time for the applause that is guaranteed to follow each phrase.

The permutations of Power-Phrases  become endless:

“Let’s come together and (crank!) MAXIMIZE our MARKET-DRIVEN MATRIX!”

“Its time for us to stand tall and (crank!) OPTIMIZE our INTERDEPENDENT ACCOUNTABLILTY!”

“Tell our children we will (crank!) STREAMLINE their EMERGING FOCUS!”

“Reach out to those less fortunate and (crank!) COMPOUND their ACTIONABLE EXPECTATIONS!”

“Show our enemies that we can (crank!) GENERALIZE our STRATEGIC SPECIFICS!”

“Show the world that we can (crank!) ARTICULATE our PARTICIPATORY EMPHASIS!”

“Remain steadfast in our beliefs and (crank!) INNOVATE our UNIQUE PERFORMANCE!”

“Draw a line in the sand, and let no enemy (crank!) INPUT our TACTICAL SYNERGY!”

 

So the next time you want to make your own power-speech, you can duplicate the above results without even owning a PPSM.  Just print out the list above, tape it to the wall, then throw three darts. Then you too can (darts!) "ISOLATE all your MARKET-DRIVEN FEEDBACK!".  (...pause for standing ovation...).   

 

 

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