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Toastmaster magazine publishes article based on 'Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Spe
"Toastmaster," the monthly magazine of Toastmasters International, has published a major excerpt from Philip Yaffe's new book The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional for the benefit of its 250,000 readers.
By: Philip Yaffe
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization has more than 250,000 members in more than 12,500 clubs in 106 countries. Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, teacher of journalism, and international marketing communication executive.
Running under the title "The Better You Write It, the Better You Say It", the article first debunks the prevalent myth that success in public speaker depends 93 percent on non-verbal cues and only 7 percent on the words you use.
The article proclaims this to be pure nonsense. "Excluding pure entertainment, the objective of most speeches is to convey information, or to promote or defend a point of view," Mr. Yaffe explains. "Certain tools, such as vocal variety and body language can aid the speechmaking process. But they communicate only emphasis or emotion.
"If your words are incapable of getting your message across, then no amount of gestures and tonal variety will do it for you," he asserts. "Thus, when preparing a speech, your first objective must always be to carefully structure your information and look for the best words or phrases to express what you want to say."
But if writing the speech is the key to success, how does one go about it?
This is where Mr. Yaffe adds three key original principles from his book. They come in the form of formulas that add quasi-mathematical rigor to the largely subjective criteria of "clarity" and "conciseness"
"As formulas, these principles not only tell you what to do, they also tell you how your are doing it, and how to go about it correctly," Mr. Yaffe explains. "In fact, these formulas act like tests for effectiveness. It your speech fails these tests, it must be revised. If it passes them, then—and only then—should you look at the other aspects of public speaking to make your already good speech even better," he asserts.
For example, according to the Clarity Principle, in order to be clear you must do three things:
1. Emphasize what is of key importance
2. De-emphasize what is of secondary importance
3. Eliminate what is of no importance
In short: Cl = EDE
In other words, you must first identify the key ideas you want to convey, then make certain that they stand out in the text (key importance). You also must identify all relevant information necessary to support the key ideas (secondary importance). Finally, you must identify and ruthlessly scrupulously eliminate all irrelevant information. As Mr. Yaffe puts it, "Nothing in writing is neutral. Whatever doesn't add to the text, subtracts from it."
In a like manner, in order to be concise your text must be as:
1. Long as necessary (to adequately cover the key ideas and supporting information)
2. Short as possible (to ensure that the impact of the key ideas and supporting information are not diluted by excess verbiage).
In short: Co = LS
Finally, density means:
1. Precise information (to avoid unpredictable interpretations by readers or listeners)
2. Logically linked (to ensure that different bits of information reinforce, rather than rival each other).
In short: D = PL
The remainder of the article analyzes an oft-quoted list of ten tips for clear writing. It demonstrates how they can all be reduced to the three basic principles of clarity, conciseness, and density, thereby making them more meaningful and useful.
"So there you have it," the article concludes, "a list of 10 writing tips and how they and how they relate to three fundamental principles of writing. With these principles—clarity, conciseness, density—you can make your speeches shine."
A list of ten principles reduced to only three.
Philip Yaffe was born in Boston in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles. In 1965 he graduated in mathematics from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), where he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, the daily student newspaper.
Mr. Yaffe has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.
He can be reached either at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and an international marketing communication consultant living in Brussels, Belgium. His latest book is The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional.
Page Updated Last on: Mar 30, 2010