The convention-breaking creative process of New York's busiest speechwriter, offering a holistic approach to crafting every kind of speech.
The ability to express yourself in words has become both a rite of passage and an essential skill for anyone who wants to make a difference within their family, community, workplace, or beyond. And yet, strategies for engaging a new generation of media and tech-savvy audiences have failed to keep up with the times, leaving speakers wondering how to articulate a resonant message that bristles with detail, authenticity, and emotional truth. While we can’t all expect to captivate and inspire millions as Barack Obama and Greta Thunberg have, every speaker—regardless of their experience—can follow a road map to elevate a narrative from serviceable to unforgettable. This is true whether you’re roasting a colleague at an office party, delivering a keynote industry address, accepting an award, or eulogizing a loved one.
In Before You Say Anything, Victoria Wellman—the founder and president of Manhattan-based speechwriting company The Oratory Laboratory—shares her unique methodology for researching, reimagining, crafting, and delivering an outstanding speech by focusing on three core objectives: respect for the audience, the restless pursuit of originality, and intentionality behind every word. Full of hilarious anecdotes and examples from Wellman’s extensive experience as the go-to speechwriter for power players and everyday people from around the world, Before You Say Anything is an irresistible antidote to the age-old doctrine of what a speech must include. Instead, it will leave readers with an enlightened and refreshing way of thinking about their sources, ideas, and material, and give them a strategy for putting it all to use.
About the Author
VICTORIA WELLMAN is the co-founder and president of The Oratory Laboratory, a boutique creative agency for public speakers based in Manhattan and servicing the world. She has crafted speeches for influencers, politicians, entrepreneurs, Olympians, NFL stars, astronauts, rap stars, artists, and activists, and has garnered media attention that includes appearances on the Today show, Martha Stewart, CNN, NPR, NBC, ABC, and CBS News. A professionally trained actress, Wellman lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Speechwriting is difficult. Finding the right ideas, forming the right structure, choosing the right words— all of it is difficult. And sometimes absurd. What a joy to see Victoria Wellman deftly demystify the process behind a good speech while bringing to life all the delightful absurdity intrinsic to our craft.” —Cody Keenan, former chief speechwriter to President Barack Obama
“Victoria Wellman’s vast experience in guiding people away from the tired and cliched to the very heart of communication that connects makes this book stand apart. Her creative process will elevate your speaking game and inspire you to continuous improvement.” —Travis Bradberry, chief people scientist at LEADx and New York Times bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0
“With her delicious wit and inimitable storytelling skills, it makes perfect sense that Victoria Wellman turned her formidable talent to speechwriting. For more than a decade, she’s applied her know-how to help everyone from seasoned pros to first-timers deliver the kinds of speeches audiences talk about for years. Thank goodness she’s finally sharing her tricks of the trade in this wonderful book.” —Clarissa Ward, CNN chief international correspondent and author of On All Fronts
“Before You Say Anything is, first and foremost, an extremely useful book for those faced with the challenge of public speaking, but it holds enormous pleasures—in its brisk, no-nonsense style and parade of hilarious, brilliantly told anecdotes, and subtle but powerful profundities—even for those who lack speech-making opportunities.” —Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction
“Creating human connection with just an idea and a microphone is a powerful skill to possess, and Victoria Wellman offers the keys to the kingdom through irresistible storytelling. Before You Say Anything provides unfettered access to her creative audience engagement strategies for novices and pros alike, and makes everyone laugh heartily along the way.” —David Korins, creative director and designer, Hamilton and the Van Gogh Experience
“Before You Say Anything is a must-read for anyone who wants to unlock the secrets of connecting with a crowd and, in doing so, unleash their power.” —Lindsay Kaplan, co-founder, Chief
"The book is both a guide for aspiring orators and a poignant memoir about a writer with a gift for poignancy. Wellman’s free spirit, penchant for romance, and enduring optimism appear in every lesson." —Booklist (starred)
"Wellman’s writing is humorous and candid...Readers looking for some speech-writing nitty-gritty will find it here." —Publishers Weekly