Simply Speaking: How to Communicate Your Ideas with Style, Substance, and Clarity

Author: Peggy Noonan

Book Reviews by Chicago Speech writer communications coach

Better know today as a Conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan also has a very strong pedigree as a political speech-writer for George H. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

In Simply Speaking she outlines very simply and coherently the basic rules of good speech writing and communication. As with most of the good books written on speech writing you are not likely to find major new insights. You will however find key elements addressed and well illustrated with relevant speeches – many of which, by the way, she helped draft e.g. George H. Bush’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention 1988 and Ronald Reagan’s fortieth anniversary D-Day speech at Pointe du Hoc. Noonan goes through the speeches in detail, helping the reader to better appreciate the context and genesis for the respective speeches.

Noonan suggestions include:

A speech should never be more than twenty minutes.

Write the text out.

Humor is essential.

Sentences should be short and simple.

The book is a bit limited in that the author constantly returns to Reagan and his oratorical style but other speeches that Noonan quotes in a worthwhile book include Christopher Reeve’s speech at the 1996 Democratic convention, John F Kennedy’s Inaugural, Bill Clinton’s Inaugural – which she pans and Mother Teresa’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast which reads reasonably well, but it was this amazing nun’s presence and credibility which truly impacted the room.

I return to this book often because it is interesting and hits the key points for a speaker. But, the book could benefit from a good checklist and summary of key points. Noonan also shows her political colors too much in a book about speech writing. The reader doesn’t need to know about her palpable disdain for the Clintons, a disdain which colors her judgment on the former President’s communication ability which, whether she likes it or not, is often exceptional.

However, Simply Speaking is a good book for the budding speechwriter and speechmaker: a worthwhile and interesting refresher for the experienced speaker.


Your Reviewer

Conor Cunneen is a Chicago based humorous, business, motivational speaker, speech writer and coach whose goal is to improve People, Performance and Productivity.

This happily exiled Irishman also happens to be a history buff, an inveterate reader and an award winning humorist speaker. As a Chicago based leadership and marketing keynote speaker and master of ceremonies, Conor’s clients range from Harley-Davidson to Helsinki, from Memphis to Madrid.

PHONE Conor at 630 718 1643 when seeking a keynote speaker, speech writer and coach to Energize, Educate, Entertain and Engage

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