You can get a free year’s subscription to Vital Speeches’ sister publication, Vital Speeches International, if you’ll only find a speech delivered in the 21st century that contains a more hackneyed opening than these two, which recently came across our transom. (And we do mean, our transom.)
Names changed to protect the cornballs:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very special day, so I want this to be a very special speech. That means, I will follow the advice my wife Nancy gave me some years ago before I gave another very special speech. I was nervous at the time, so I went to Nancy for help.
“Nance,” I said, “I really need this to be good—so what can I do to be sure it is good?”
Nance thought for a minute, then looked me in the eye, and said, Bob, if you want everyone in your audience to love your speech, just be sure to start your speech with just two magic words.”
“What words are those?” I asked.
“In conclusion!” Nance answered.
No doubt while Nance was thinking for a minute, she was scouring Bob Orben‘s Encyclopedia of Patter for just the right line.
Here’s another one that would have been a cliché if had it appeared in Vital Speeches‘ first volume, in 1934.
Good afternoon, everyone. When Ed Nutter, your communications director, asked the smartest person in the city to give this year’s veteran’s day speech for this ceremony, that brilliant guy turned Ed down. Can you believe it? Then, Ed asked the best looking man in the state to speak to you today, but he turned Ed down as well. So, when Ed asked the wittiest person to give today’s presentation, I just couldn’t turn him down a third time. My office staff members told me not to start out a speech with a joke because I’m not always good at telling jokes. I usually mess up the punchline. But when I heard that one, I couldn’t resist. All joking aside, I’m happy to have been invited back to speak with you this year for this wonderful event ….
If he’s invited back next year, it’ll because the world’s least-original speaker turned them down.
Readers, can you do better?