Cicero Speechwriting Awards winners announced

Here’s the press release announcing the winners of the Cicero Speechwriting Awards. Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who entered. —DM

Phoenix—Most people don’t associate the Netherlands with war, and government officials rarely give speeches declaring their love for weapons. Yet that is precisely the genius behind the speech that won the Grand Award in the fifth annual Cicero Speechwriting Awards.

Written by Annelies Breedveld for Gen. Peter van Uhm, chief of defense for the Netherlands, the speech opened in dramatic fashion Nov. 25, 2011, at TED Amsterdam.

Ominously holding a real machine gun, van Uhm told the audience: “Let us stop for a moment and feel this uneasiness. Let us cherish this feeling. Let us cherish the fact that probably most of you have never been close to a gun. It means the Netherlands is a peaceful country.” He went on to say that this is thanks to the fact that he and others in the military choose “the gun” as their instrument of making peace in the world.

Van Uhm’s speech, which can be viewed here, was one of this year’s two dozen Cicero Award-winning orations, chosen from a record 100 entries in 36 categories. All the entries are available for free download in an e-book titled These Vital Speeches, and these winning speeches confirm the enduring power of oral communication, and trumpet the recent innovations in the field.

“The development of TEDTalks and the advent of video and other multimedia platforms have increased the creativity we’re seeing in corporate and political speeches,” says David Murray, Cicero Speechwriting Awards program chairman and editor of Vital Speeches of the Day.

“Speechwriters are figuring out when a speech is the most effective form of communication and, as our Grand Award winner so thoroughly demonstrates, they’re learning how to use various visual and staging elements to supplement the strength of powerful words.”

Now in its fifth year, the Cicero Speechwriting Awards program is the most prestigious awards program for speakers and speechwriters. Judged by rhetoric and speechwriting experts Jerry Tarver, Kell Jarner Rasmussen, Dana Rubin, Pete Weissman and Tom Rosshirt, the awards have grown more competitive every year.

The Cicero Speechwriting Awards are sponsored by Vital Speeches of the Day, which is published by McMurry.

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