Speechwriters’ own big rock candy mountain

I’ll hope to regale you in other posts with yarns and insights gathered during a happy week I spent in Phoenix last week. I was there connecting with my speechwriting peeps at a conference, and also my colleagues at McMurry, the company that publishes Vital Speeches of the Day.

After the “speechwriting jam session” I delivered at the conference, a number of people came up and told me the session had given them goosebumps or made them cry. Same here, I told them.

Though I’d seen or read these speech excerpts dozens of times before, being able to share them with other communicators was emotional for me too.

Many of the discussions with the speechwriters and with my McMurry mates centered on the new community that’s growing around the old magazine, Vital Speeches.

I thought of this group of speech geeks, and my happy position as a facilitator and sometime sparker of these conversations, as I read another anachronistic magazine on the flight home.

Ring Magazine was one thing half a century ago, when boxing was still a major American sport. Now that boxing is despised in many quarters and ignored in most others, it may come as a surprise that Ring still comes out every month. What surprised me, a fight fan but not a fight man, was how wonderful a read Ring still is.

In fact, it prompted me to ask and answer a pretty old question:

What is a great read?

A great read is when you intend to flip through something but find yourself frustrated by frequent stops, because you never see an article that you ought to be interested in. Quite the opposite: You notice the woman in the seat next to you is looking scornfully at the gruesome knockout photo you’ve been staring at for a minute, like it’s pornography.

“I know,” you want to hasten to tell her. “It’s really awful, isn’t it?”

I guess it’s natural to feel a little embarrassed when we find ourselves following our real fascinations, rather than studying the things we really ought to care about.

That’s the feeling I want my Vital Speeches pals to have when they come to VSOTD.com and its various social media forums.

The world tells communicators they have to think like business people, that the results are all that matters, that strategy trumps tactics, that language is less important than money.

We accept what we have to of all that, in order to get along out there.

But it’s not how we feel.

And fresh off this good trip, I’m feeling privileged to make my living and spend my time creating places for us communication tramps to talk about what is important to us—human beings, and how they talk to each other—no matter what anyone else thinks.

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