Content Crushes and you and me

You too can be an NPQ newswire writer!

I get terrible crushes on people who write or speak beautifully. It is my failing romantically because there are plenty of cads with the gift o’ gab but a fine turn of phrase – Whoa Nellie!
 
I watched my friend Bill Schambra of the Hudson Institute talk up a liberal crowd the other day and he lulled them into a kind of a trance and then hit them with a couple of statements about the horrors of welfare dependency. They were already so in love with him that it took a beat or two before someone at my table leaned over and asked me, “Is he serious?”

He used to be a speechwriter. The guy has skills.

I also have a crush on Barney Frank, who can hit a nail on the head with a mere flick of the wrist at fifty feet in a soupy fog…at midnight. He can make me snort or bark instead of laugh. I’d like to live with him—platonically, of course.

The thing is, many people take my breath away once they get going on something they know well and feel deeply enough about...unless they are just parroting a bunch of stuff they have heard elsewhere exactly as they heard it fifty times from others. That kind of verbiage is like detritus – nothing alive there.

The reason I am ranting on about this is because I think any of us who have been watching the conventions over the past week have to be struck by the difference between a speech that talks to us and one that talks at us. Part of it, of course, is in the values connection between ourselves and the speaker. But some of it is about your ability to take risks with your energy and an odd turn of phrase or three—the stuff that hangs on long after everything else is gone. The mop to microphone kind of thing.

I would ask you, when you speak to people about your work or when you hear others talk about theirs what is it that works about the way you are speaking or what you are saying?Do you pay attention to what does and does not work?

Do you do us all the service of refining those storytelling and cross disciplinary analytical skills so you can surprise us once in a while?

Here is what I would like to suggest. Hone them here with us. Become one of NPQ’s regular newswire writers. Take a risk. Tell a tale. Have influence.

About

Ruth McCambridge

Ruth is Editor in Chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her background includes forty-five years of experience in nonprofits, primarily in organizations that mix grassroots community work with policy change. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ruth spent a decade at the Boston Foundation, developing and implementing capacity building programs and advocating for grantmaking attention to constituent involvement.