If you saw President Bill Clinton's rousing speech during the Democratic National Convention last week, you know you were witnessing a skilled communicator at work.
What was less obvious is how much the speech he delivered was different from the prepared text that was presumably being displayed on his teleprompter -- and how much stronger his impromptu version was than the prepared text.
You can see both displayed together at the Atlantic Wire: What Bill Clinton Wrote vs. What Bill Clinton Said.
Clinton made his speech clearer, more colloquial, and more forceful with many small (and a few large) changes.
Look at the last sentence of the speech to get an idea of how he made it better:
What his teleprompter said:
If that's what you believe, if that's what you want, we have to re-elect President Barack Obama.
What he said:
My fellow Americans, if that is what you want, if that is what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President Barack Obama.
The printed version is okay, but a bit flat. Lacking force, not a real thundering end. He transformed it into a powerful new thing, while not really changing the meaning at all:
- He changed if that's to if that is. Most of the time it's better to go with the contraction if you want to sound colloquial. Clinton saw something better: By taking out the contraction and saying is, he got greater emphasis and stronger rhythm.
- He reversed want and believe, putting believe in the second spot, which gives it more emphasis.
- He changed we to you.
Fundraising writers: Study these changes. That's professional work.