A journalist acquaintance had a hot take on yesterday’s New York Times story about a letter sent to Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, by his family, disowning him for his disloyalty to President Trump. “Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God,” read the letter, which accused Kinzinger of being in “the devil’s army”: “You have embarrassed the Kingzinger family name.”

“Mr. Kinzinger seems to have some nasty cousins,” the journalist wrote on Facebook.

Missing the much more important point that Mr. Kinzinger is not alone.

Earlier this month I was being interviewed on a podcast, about…


This isn’t just your best opportunity to help your CEO do what needs to be done, it’s actually your first — and probably, your last.

Dear Executive Communication Professional:

You might be tempted to throw up your hands at this point. (But you won’t.)

The Edelman Trust Barometer this week reported that CEOs are losing credibility in relation to leaders of other institutions during coronavirus — ranking dead last, behind academics and scientists, national government leaders, global health authorities, local government leaders and journalists.

Only 29% of respondents believe business leaders are doing an “outstanding” job of handling the crisis…


I told my 16-year-old daughter it’s time for her to stop pining for this summer to be like last summer, and start thinking about … what, exactly?

I’ve been reading Erik Larson’s fine new book about Churchill in 1940, and I think it had something to do with a conversation Monday afternoon at the tennis courts at Smith Park, with my 16-year-old daughter.

I’d just accidentally reduced her to tears by telling her a soft-soaped version of a New York Times Daily interview I’d heard. …


More virtual conferences mean major changes in the nature of speeches — and the speechwriters who are hired to write them.

It’s been a relatively good week for speeches and speechwriters!

On Sunday, Queen Elizabeth gave a widely appreciated televised speech calling on British citizens to show “the quiet, good-humored resolve” they’ve been known for going back to her first radio address, in 1940. On Tuesday, American Medical Association President Patrice Harris delivered a major speech through the National Press Club’s livestream, on “COVID-19: The Importance of Science in an Era of Distrust and Disinformation.” And perhaps most starkly highlighting the need for good judgment and the speechwriters who provide it was Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s disastrous Monday morning speech


Weary leaders must not revert to their natural instincts. We mustn’t, either.

It’s been some month for corporate CEOs, who have been transformed from poster children of American income inequality to American saviors-by-default — many of them forgoing pay, making no-layoff pledges, retooling their companies to help in the fight against the coronavirus, dutifully issuing mostly reliable information in homely video communications from their home offices.

A few have made asses of themselves, but and some of their companies are under fire, but collectively, CEOs have been rhetorically responsible.

For people familiar with the way CEOs normally communicate, most remarkable…


A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You: An Open Letter to American CEOs

Why you must say something about coronavirus every single day.

Dear American CEO,

“I feel like I have been hit on the head with a cow,” a Joseph Mitchell character once said (after he’d had a cow dropped on his head).

The coronavirus crisis is profoundly disorienting for every American — but none of us more than the top executives of large companies and other prominent organizations.

As our nation faces one of the greatest challenges in its history, people are increasingly looking for reassurance, guidance…


The “self-guided” motorcycle tour of Ecuador sounded a little canned to my college buddy and me. Not for long.

Tom hit the dog and went down hard.

He was right in front of me, but I actually had time, as I swerved around the wreck on the wet mountain curve and looked for flat enough place to park the motorcycle, to think: And here I thought getting robbed two days ago in Cuenca would be the low point of our trip.

“Adventure travel” seems packaged and safe until you’re in the pouring rain in the Amazon jungle with an injured…


The question I get asked most as editor of Vital Speeches is, “Where do you find all the speeches?”

Which I always take as a polite way of asking, “How do you get to decide?”

Of all the tens of thousands of speeches delivered in the world every month, how do we choose 10 to appear in the next issue of Vital Speeches?

My inquisitors seem disappointed and surprised to hear that some months, we have a hard time coming up with 10 that we’re truly proud to publish.

To understand that, you need to read our criteria, established upon…


Today my company launched a website called Vital Sermons.

It’s like a spiritual version of TED Talks — a curated site where religious leaders of all kinds post exceptional, topical sermons for the consumption of people of all kinds, who seek inspiration beyond their local place of worship.

My friends will tell you, I’m an unlikely builder of this website. My mother was a fierce atheist who once fired a cleaning woman for singing religious songs around my sister and me when we were little. …


My father’s been gone almost 10 years.

On the Fourth of July, I cannot decide whether I want to wake him up to tell him all about the national calamity, or let him sleep, and spare him the pain.

I think I’m going to wake him up.

My spirituality is like a lot of people’s, I think: The closest touch we have with God is the memory of our beloved dead, after we have washed them and groomed them and dressed them and arranged their quiet hands. …

David Murray

David Murray is publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association. He lives in Chicago.

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