The first best sign of a good speech: a good title

I try to draw lessons from the Cicero Speechwriting Awards, and one one thing I saw this year was a high correlation between good speech titles and good speeches. (And, obviously, vice-versa.) Most of the titles on the cover of our winners’ collection—These Vital Speeches 2011, available for free dowload—have much better-than-average titles.

Money: The Root of All Happiness? That’s a reversal of conventional wisdom that the inspires the listener or the reader to resolve it.

There Is More Than One Inconvenient Truth Again, we need to get to the bottom of this one. Is the speaker attacking Al Gore and his movie, or what?

These Brave American Soldiers This wouldn’t be interesting, except the speech isn’t by an American; it’s by Holland’s defense minister.

I Am Alzheimer’s Which must mean he has Alzheimer’s. And he’s giving a speech about it. Yes, we’re all ears.

Ethics as a Business Strategy Seriously? The CEO of Dow is going to talk about ethics as a business strategy? Okay, we’ll hear him out.

I Wish I Was a Messenger That’s just a weird phrase and we’d like to know what exactly it’s all about.

Shift Happens If the speaker is willing to be this irreverent with a speech title, maybe the speech will be edgy too.

Legacies: They’re Not Just For Dead Folks Anymore Another cheeky title that promises something other than the same-old speech.

Readers, what are the best titles you’ve ever written for your speeches? Add them here. And if you’ve never written a good title, this is the time to start. It’s a chance to make a strong first impression on the audience long before the event and it helps you spread the speech afterward.

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