Wednesday, November 17, 2004


By Thomas Murrell, MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

He's been accused of "mangling the language, destroying its meaning by avoiding the use of verbs, twisting nouns into verbs, and endlessly repeating phrases until they become zombified" (Source:'Bush and Blair accused of mangling English' by Kate Kelland,, Mon 15 November, 2004 12:50).

But despite this George W Bush has become the first Republican president to win re-election since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

And he's been able to motivate the US public to vote in record numbers.

In a time of stress and crisis, Bush was able to connect with the masses.

Bush – who according to language experts once famously used the word "misunderestimate", romped home with a record majority receiving 3.5 million more votes than Kerry.

Why did Bush win by so much when analysts were predicting one of the closest elections in years?

Well, the shocking truth is that Bush and his advisers are masters of modern-day speechwriting.

What would you do if you had this skill to move and motivate others?

Well, here are the little-known speechwriting secrets of how George W Bush won the US election?

Because they are universal principles, you can apply these to your own career and personal situation:

1. Strong Self-Belief

Bush has always had a strong sense of purpose to "build a safer world" and to make a difference. He is unswerving in his belief and mission to achieve this.

One of the most memorable lines in his acceptance speech summarises his own home-grown optimism and sense of destiny.

"There is an old saying, "Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks."

What is your passion and purpose in life?

2. Certainty in an Age of Uncertainty

In times of fear and uncertainty, sitting politicians have a greater chance of being re-elected.

Bush reinforced this message in all his speeches.

For example: "To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Trust was Bush's central campaign message to overcome people's anxiety about the future.

What is your central theme for your next speech?

3. Visual Imagery

Visual imagery is just as important as words in a speech, especially for people who take in information through visual rather than auditory channels.

Here are some clever ways Bush and his team maximised positive visual images in an election that was staged for television.

Pictures of his family, including that wonderful election night shot of George W relaxing in the White House with three generations of the Bush family, including his daughter, father and mother. (PS - only mothers with sons could appreciate that proud look on Barbara Bush's face as she looked over to George W)

He also used his tangible evidence of power such as alighting from the Presidential helicopter and plane to reinforce the trust and security message.

The American flag he wore on his lapel helped reinforce patriotism, as did his red tie when out on the election stump.

Interestingly, Bush wore a blue tie for his acceptance speech. This was subtle and sent the message "I'm in a different phase now, I've won the battle and its time to move on".

What non-verbal signal does your appearance send to your audience?

4. The Bush Personal Brand

The Bush personal brand is very interesting. Of course it is built on stories and everyone knows the story of the hard drinking, hard working Texan wildcat oil investor who at 40 years of age gave up drinking, found God and committed himself to public office.

In his acceptance speech, Bush reinforced this personal story and his special relationship with the people of Texas where his political career started.

"On the open plains of Texas, I first learned the character of our country: sturdy and honest, and as hopeful as the break of day.

I will always be grateful to the good people of my state. And whatever the road that lies ahead, that road will take me home."

Notice the visual imagery he uses to paint a picture of Texas and the warm feelings of home in middle-America.

How can you use this technique for your next speech?

5. Relentless Discipline

Bush ran a tight, disciplined campaign and his speeches never wavered or wandered from their key message.

Even in the glory of his win, he was focused:

"Our military has brought justice to the enemy and honor to America.

Our nation has defended itself and served the freedom of all mankind."

6. Family Values

Bush campaigned on family values - a common theme in both the US and Australian elections.

In his acceptance speech this is how he articulated these values:

"There are many people to thank and my family comes first.

Laura is the love of my life.

I'm glad you love her too.

I want to thank our daughters who joined their dad for his last campaign.

I appreciate the hard work of my sister and brothers.

I especially want to thank my parents for their loving support."

7. Shared Set of Values

Bush was attuned to the values of the heartland of America, "that heartland is spiritually and geographically the Mid West, a place of small town, conservative family values," according to Tom Carver, the BBC's correspondent in Washington.

Carver adds "Bill Clinton was a fair reflection of the laissez-faire mood of the confident, prosperous 90s. And President Bush is a mirror to the darker, more nervous post-9/11 America."

For Bill Clinton's 14 Speechwriting Secrets read my new book 'Understanding Influence for Leaders at All Levels' to be released by McGraw-Hill in February 2005.

8. Staying on Message

In the US, news is about emotion and is more orientated towards entertainment than just the facts.

Bush knew this and while he may not have the charisma of Clinton and his aversion to media conferences is well-known, his media performance during the election was one of his best.

Again, Carver from the BBC provides a great example of the legendary Bush media-savvy skills:

"There was a telling moment in his press conference ... when he was asked about the "big business" image that he and his party have. He completely ignored the question and talked instead about small businesses and how they are the engine of growth in the economy. He doesn't even allow the phrase "big business" to pass his lips."

Want to know how to do this? I have two places available for my next seminar. Book now

9. Ability to Read, Reflect and Relate to Issues of Concern

Analysts predicted the US election would be a referendum on the war against Iraq.

How wrong they were. The big issues for voters were about patriotism, and in particular, who do the American people trust on:

i) Moral grounds, ii) The economy, iii) Terrorism, and lastly iv) The War on Iraq.

Bush won the moral argument in a landslide and again played this card in his acceptance speech:

"America has spoken, and I'm humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens.

With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans. And I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as your president."

How can you relate to the issues and concerns of your audience?

10. A Great Call to Action

I believe the purpose of every speech should be to make a difference and move people to action.

For Bush it was for people to trust him and win their vote.

The "who do you trust theme" worked well for Bush and won him the election.

In his closer to his acceptance speech, Bush articulates this trust issue well with a clear and strong call to action:

"The campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith.

I see a great day coming for our country and I am eager for the work ahead."

What is the 'call to action' for your next speech?

I hope you enjoyed the article, please share it with others.

Everything you need to know about writing and crafting a speech is in our "Powerful and Persuasive Speechwriting" course on Tuesday, December 7th in Perth. Write better speeches with more impact in less time. Book here

Monday, November 15, 2004

Brand Building 101: Telling the Story Behind the Brand

The ability of an organisation to tell a story about its past, present and future is critical to brand building.

Stories are personable, memorable and create a special bond with prospects or consumers, especially if they can create a degree of trust.


Well, people buy from people they like and trust. Good stories and a strong brand create a sense of intimacy.

A good example is Raffles International Hotels and Resorts.

I love staying at the Swissotel in Raffles Plaza in Singapore because of the great service, excellent views and good prices (plus where else can you work out in a great gym then have a superb breakfast by the pool all included in your room rate).

And of course there is the famous Raffles Hotel with its ceiling fans, timber floors, oriental carpets, lush tropical gardens and restaurants and bars in which to have an even more famous 'Singapore Sling'. Next on my "to do" list is to take a formal tour of this grand old lady and Singapore icon.

According to their website "the cornerstones in the management philosophy of Raffles International are:
» The commitment to providing exceptional service to our customers consistently
» Excellent training and career opportunities to our employees
» High investment returns to our shareholders."

A successful hotel is more than a place to rest your head. It is a place you want to come back to and a story behind the brand creates that intimacy.

Raffles do this well with their own story behind their brand. Their logo is a fine detailed drawing of the Traveller's Palm. A great logo. But the story is better.

"The native of Madagascar is actually a relative of the banana tree, which explains its large flat leaves. Introduced to Singapore in the early 1900s, it adapted quickly to the local climate and soon became a favourite in landscaped gardens all over the island.

It is a widely held belief that water stored in the v-shaped base of each palm leaf had provided sustenance for travellers in earlier days. The leaves of the Traveller's Palm are known to come to rest in an 'east-west' direction and thus have served as an informal compass for travellers making their way home after long journeys."

This story is communicated on much of their marketing materials, including sponsored editorials in the local 'Singapore Straits' newspaper.

This is a great case study of a company telling a story about its brand, origins and great service.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Is Your Ego Getting in the Way?

Is your ego getting in the way of a good Ezine.

Successful Ezines or electronic magazines are well written and usually stick to the 80/20 rule. 80 per cent good content, 20 per cent advertising or self-promotion.

Write as a friend and make an emotional connection with your readers.

How do you do this?

In When Good Newsletters Go Bad: How to avoid the rut and capture hearts Meryl K. Evans, Editor, eNewsletter Journal, provides the following advice:

"Ensure the advertising to content ratio is in favor of content.

1. Include a free offer.

2. Put links to the site where it is appropriate (byline, banner, published line, etc.).

3. Create "special" offers good for a limited time.

4. Add related products or services at the end of an article.

5. Limit the sending of offers or specials in a separate email."

Check your Ezine against this list. Source: eNewsletter Journal, November 10, 2004, Issue 3.21.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Brand Journalism and Blogging

There is a new way consumers are relating to brands.

This is through a blog, allowing direct comments from prospects, customers or clients to a business about its products or services.

These comments or running commentary, as communicated via a blog, is known as 'brand journalism'.

So how do you create a good blog to tap into Brand Journalism?

Sally Fulkow, a web content specialist provides these tips:

"Search engines like text, good content focused on keywords, and links. No wonder they like blogs. A well executed corporate blog will

· Increase your footprint on the Internet with a ‘cloud’ of content on your subject

· Create top ten search results on many keywords relevant to your industry

· Establish you as an expert on these subjects

· Raise awareness of your company, product or service

· Create interaction with your customers

· Give your company a human voice

· Make the company more real to your customers, raising the affinity and understanding.

· Increase your brand value

· Raise your visibility with the mainstream media

By blogging in a platform that understands and mirrors the search engines, and by learning how to write good blog content based on researched keywords, you can achieve uncommon results." Source: International Association of Online Communicators blog.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Connect More, Preach Less

Truly effective speakers really connect with their audience rather than preaching to them.

Much of the feedback I get from audiences is that I am "authentic" and "genuine".

Is this an innate skill or one that can be learned?

I believe it is a learned skill. Beverley Cohen, a communications specialist makes some good points in a recent article Ease Up On the Preach.

Here is a summary of the key points she makes:

"Examine your text

1. Write your message for the ear rather than the eye. Remember your audience will be hearing what you have to say. They won't be reading it.

2. Use words that are easy for your audience to understand
Avoid technical jargon.

3. Keep your sentences short but descriptive.
Avoid statements that sound like edicts: You should…You must…

4. Include your audience with statements like, "As you already know…" "I'm sure you've discovered…."

5. Sprinkle your message with humor.
Tell stories and anecdotes in third person. " I have a friend"… My father always told me…"

Examine your style

1. Don't read your text, no matter how good you think it is. You can't maintain a conversational tone or have good eye contact if your head is down and you are reading.

2. Speak to your audience not at them

3. Smile

4. Breathe naturally

5. Use hand gestures that are inclusive

6. Don't point. Use an open hand when gesturing to the audience

7. Vary your volume and rate to keep interest and add intrigue

8. Move away from the lectern

9. View your audience as valued friends

10. View your message as one to be shared"

Source: Power Presentations Newsletter, November 2004

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


By Thomas Murrell, MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

As I travel around the world I always enjoy sampling the media in different countries.

Even if I don't speak Thai, Bahasa or Mandarin, watching local news services always provides a unique insight into local culture.

I was recently watching a story on a new biotech company on Channel News Asia in Singapore. The story had interviews with both the China-based CEO and biotech venture capitalists in Singapore.

One of the visual images that struck me was how professional, persuasive and powerful the Chinese CEO looked compared to the Singapore interviewees.

The simple difference was the Chinese CEO was wearing a dark suit jacket whereas the Singpore-based talent simply had on a tie and white shirt.

Attention to detail like this can make or break your image and ability to persuade others.

Here are the Top 10 Tips for TV Interviews:

1. Avoid the phrase "I think"

This phrase weakens the impact of your message and sound bite. It adds no value and should be avoided.

2. Always wear a dark jacket for business interviews

Always have on hand a dark jacket to wear for TV interviews. This will give your body shape conveying confidence, credibility and charisma.

3. Avoid white shirts without jackets

A white shirt without a jacket is going to make your head look like a pale, washed out balloon floating around the screen. Avoid this unless you have a great tan or dark complexion.

4. Lean slightly forward towards the camera
That great Western Australian-born TV communicator, artist and inventor of the wobbleboard, Rolf Harris was a master at creating intimacy with viewers by subtle changes to the angle of his head in relation to the TV camera.

Leaning forward slightly will give you more presence and intimacy, as well as making you look thinner.

5. Avoid looking directly at the camera

Having been a TV weather presenter, looking directly at a TV camera to deliver messages is a really challenging skill.

Avoid looking directly at the camera unless you're a seasoned pro.

6. Look at the interviewer

Look directly at the journalist to avoid 'wandering eyes' syndrome. Looking around furtively will make you appear shifty and untrustworthy.

7. Always control the background visuals

Control the background of your TV interview with the message you want to convey. Your logo flashed up behind you for 7 seconds can be worth upwards of $50,000 in free branding.

8. Work on your "quotable quote"

Your media message must be succinct, memorable and to the point.

9. Avoid milk, caffeine and alcohol

Milk will clog up your mouth and caffeine and alcohol will dull your senses and make you want to go to the toilet.

Stick to water and make sure you are fully hydrated.

10. Practice

Nothing is known to improve your skills more than rehearsing, practising and then reviewing your performance.

If you want to learn more in a fun supportive learning environment, "Winning the Media Game" on Wednesday, November 24th will take your skills to a new level. Book here.

Please provide feedback to this article by going to my new weblog and the best comments posted in the next 72 hours will win a copy of my Media Fundamentals book. Post your comments here and have the chance to win the book.

PS. I will even pay the postage anywhere in the world.

Monday, November 01, 2004

What Makes a Good Blog

I'm hooked by this blogging as a way of sharing knowledge.

I'm now heavily researching what makes a good blog and how it can be applied to business, especially marketing and PR.

I've been a big fan of Seth Godin since reading his book on 'permission marketing'.

This is what he says makes a good blog:

"Blogs work when they are based on:

Pithiness and

(maybe Utility if you want six)." (Source: click here)