How to submit a speech to Vital Speeches (Part One of Two)

For 76 years, Vital Speeches of the Day has flourished without having a submission policy, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Because that’s what editors do. Now in the editor’s chair for more than a year, I’ve found a few helpful hints that I’d like to share with you. Because I don’t want submissions guidelines to depress submissions, I stress that these are indeed hints—not hard and fast rules.

We like getting speeches via e-mail (vseditor at mcmurry.com), as Word attachments; the attachment should include the speaker’s name and title, the event, the venue, the location and the date of the speech. If the document is a transcript, please remove atmospheric notations [applause, laughter, etc.]. And if you send a title and subtitle with the speech and we publish the speech, we’ll try to use them if we find them accurate and compelling.

In your e-mail, please include a brief description of the speaker, the message and the significance of the talk. A solid model came in just the other day, from Jim Foster, executive director of The City Club of Cleveland:

I believe this speech by Cleveland Foundation CEO Ronn Richard about both why we must succeed—and how we can succeed—in secondary education warrants inclusion in Vital Speeches. Ronn has a great deal of insight—not only because he heads the second largest community foundation in the country which is deeply invested in secondary education, but also because he is the chairman of the board for the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine—an inner-city school where this past year 100% of the seniors graduated—and 100% were accepted at four-year colleges. Mostly minority kids, mostly from very challenging circumstances, now headed to Harvard and MIT, Case Western Reserve, Princeton and Bowdoin. It can be done.
 
Ronn cites much about our Cleveland situation—and the challenges we face here are present in every urban school district across the country.

And while it’s nice to connect your speech with the great problems of our time, it’s equally compelling to say something like this, from a pitch I also got last week from Phil Backlund, a professor at Central Washington University: “Please consider the attached speech for inclusion in Vital Speeches of the Day. I have a PhD in Speech Communication, and have taught public speaking for years. The attached speech, written and delivered by David Stambaugh, is one of the best I have heard. … Please give it your every consideration.” You got it, Dr. Backlund.

We read pretty much every speech we get, so the quality or even the existence of an e-mail cover note won’t make or break your chances of getting a speech published. But a little steer can help us help us to the heart of the speech quicker, and make sure the true importance of your speech gets through our thick heads. Cool?

Check back in later this week for a quibbling, grousing, sad little series of feverish editorial requests from our green eyeshade-wearing inner Bartleby.

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