I tried, but I simply could not let the Melania Trump Convention Speech debacle pass without comment; It is such a priceless example of a completely unnecessary catastrophe! Why? Well because I believe it is almost impossible to plagiarise if your speech is authentic.
As a speech writer, even if I have a good sense of the occasion and purpose of the speech it is still my practice to engage directly with the client before writing to establish what THEY seek to achieve out of the message. What do they see as important? What truths or experiences in their own lives are relevant to the circumstances? I prepare a series of probing and occasionally provocative questions before this conversation to help the client find their way to the answers, but the purpose is to ensure that the skill I exercise is in service to the authentic message of the client.
As a Speaker you need to sound like you!!! My craft comes in finding elegant and creative ways to help you to be more effective by accessing a wider range of general metaphors, illustrations and forms of expression, but I aim to ensure that when you stand up and speak people believe YOU are speaking for yourself….
In this situation it seems Melania attempted to re-craft a speech prepared by writers who may very well have followed these principles, but whilst it’s one thing to use the occasional attributed quote it’s another altogether to “borrow” entire passages….It speaks volumes about not having an authentic message to begin with, because it’s highly unlikely that someone else’s words could carry YOUR story better than your own.
In resorting to clever sounding phrases and terminology she obviously thought would make her come across as more competent, more capable, …perhaps more FLOTUS-like, the irony is that Melania lost credibility. In doing so she inadvertently achieved a spectacular own goal.
My personal distaste for her husband’s politics notwithstanding, from a purely professional perspective, the tragedy is she probably DOES have a great story to tell…If only she had the confidence to tell it.