To Communicate Something Bigger, “We Have to Be Willing to Keep It Small.”

Rabbi tells speechwriters: Most of a speaker's effort should be devoted to connecting with the audience.

So meta (and so good). At the European Speechwriters Network confab at Cambridge this spring, the AmericanRabbi Shais Taub gave a speech giving a speech, explaining techniques as he demonstrated them—jokes about jokes, stories about stories, metaphors for metaphors.

The rabbi said that 95 percent of what a speaker says should be for the purpose of connecting with the audience on the other side of the pulpit or the lectern—and only 5 percent should be actually getting the idea across.

“We want to convey something that is bigger than all of us, something that’s otherworldly, something that is beyond,” the rabbi concludes. “And in order to do that, we have to be very humble. We have to be willing to keep it small. Jokes, stories, parables—keep it human, keep it real, keep it relevant. And then something magical happens … there’s a connection of two inner worlds. Something that I’ve seen suddenly becomes something you can see. That’s a gift to be able to provide that.” 

See it for yourself. —DM

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