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The Power and Persuasion of the Spoken Word

About This Course

People remember great speeches, sometimes for generations. Think of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – less than 300 words long. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

More recently, Michelle Obama delivered a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention that was admired for its elegance and rhetorical power. Poynter's Roy Peter Clark analyzed the First Lady’s words, and described how and why they worked in this article for

It turns out that the strategies of good writing are magnified in public oratory. This webinar shows how to write better by mastering these techniques.

What Will I Learn:

  • The important of creating a good pace, using a variety of sentence lengths.
  • How to use the short sentence to hammer home your message.
  • How to order words for emphasis.
  • How to use repetition to create rhythm and momentum.
  • How to use parallel constructions for predictability and surprise.
  • How to build to a climax.

Who Should Take this Course:

  • Writers, editors, producers and reporters who want to create an authentic voice in writing.
  • Students who are learning writing strategies.
  • Anyone who has to write and deliver an oral presentation.

Course Instructor

Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark is vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, where he has taught writing since 1979. He is the author of the books Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer and The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English. His latest work includes the book Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces and mobile app Help! for Writers. He also blogs and chats about writing tools on You can follow him on Twitter at @RoyPeterClark.

His newest book is How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times.

Clark has taught writing at every level -- from school children to Pulitzer Prize-winning authors -- for more than 30 years, and has spoken about the writer's craft on The Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR and Today; at conferences from Singapore to Brazil; and at news organizations from The New York Times to the Sowetan in South Africa.

His other books include: "Free to Write: A Journalist Teaches Young Writers," "Coaching Writers: Editors and Reporters Working Together," "America's Best Newspaper Writing," "The Craft and Values of American Journalism" and "The Changing South of Gene Patterson: The Journalism of Civil Rights, 1960-1968."

He is a Distinguished Service Member of the American Society of News Editors.