The 411

November 23-24, 2023
9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


$750 (+hst)
Discounts available.


Meet the Instructor

Don Smith

Don Smith

Don Smith is a CEC Associate and a former Government of Canada communications executive. He worked in a number of departments, including the Privy Council Office, providing advice and support to ministers’ offices and senior public service executives.

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"The practical component of this workshop was nice. We were able to try out what we learned. Also loved the small group and amazing instructor."

"Especially liked the focus on making your speech subject matter resonate with your audience and how to make this happen."

"It realistically helped me to get over writer's block. I work better with structure and procedure - which was provided in this course - and I now know where to go to find inspiration."

"I liked the opportunity to discuss my work with other professionals in the field and get a refresher on tips and tricks."

"I learned a lot on the prep. necessary for writing speeches that will make it easier in the future. A very useful course."


NOTE: The workshop content described below will be delivered through ZOOM ONLINE on two consecutive half-day sessions. Agendas and other relevant workshop documentation will be sent to you by the workshop instructor at least three days prior to the date of the first session.


Speeches are one of the oldest methods of communicating information from one to many, and little has changed about the speechmaking process. People still gather together, and one person stands in front of them and shares information, usually from a prepared text. By the same token, little has changed when it comes to speechwriting. One person sits with a blank sheet of paper and decides what will be said. Technology has helped both processes: Microphones mean the speaker no longer has to shout to be heard, and computers have made speech preparation easier. But the essential speechmaking function has not changed, and the need for people to write speeches has not diminished.

Whether you write speeches on a regular basis, now and again, have been assigned to "produce a draft" or simply want to add to your skills, this course offers a straightforward approach to crafting a successful speech. Don Smith shares the knowledge he acquired and lessons he learned while working on more than 1,200 speeches for ministers and senior executives in the Government of Canada. The course provides a step-by-step guide to speechwriting that takes you from a blank piece of paper to the final product.


How to:


8:45 - 9:00

Introductions and Workshop Overview

Why speeches matter and the role of the speechwriter

9:00 - 10:45 Session I – The Basics
9:00 - 10:00 What Makes a Good Speech? Analyzing some Classics

Questions to answer before you being writing:
  • Why is this speech being made? Why does it matter?
  • Whose voice am I writing for? Who is the audience?
  • What are the key elements of the story?
  • Where do I look for information, ideas and inspiration?
  • How can I make the speech connect with the audience?
  • When do I stop writing and turn in the speech?

Exercise 1
10:00 - 10:45 Keeping it Simple: Making Bureaucratic Language easily Understandable

Using plain language techniques and speechwriting tools, rework awkwardly-written extracts from actual speeches to make them more accessible and relevant to an audience
10:45 - 11:00


11:00 - 12:15 Session II - The Mechanics
11:00 - 12:15 How to Structure your Speech into Three Key Segments
  • Start with an outline – Identify your focus, supporting key messages and key facts to substantiate your story
  • Every story has a beginning-middle-end, and every speech has the same:
    • Introduction
    • Body
    • Conclusion
12:15 - 1:15


1:15 - 2:30 Session III - Tips and Techniques
1:15 - 2:30 Pulling it all Together
  • Organize your ideas
  • Write the way peoiple speak
  • Appeal to the listener's head - and heart
  • Make it real: how to use facts, figures, examples, anecdotes, quotes and metaphors
  • Do's and don'ts
2:30 - 2:45


2:30 - 2:45 Session IV: Putting it into Practice
2:45 - 4:15 Exercise 2

Develop a speech outline, including key messages. Draft an introductory paragraph tailored to the target audience.

4:15 - 4:30 Evaluation and feedback