Quick turnarounds and openness to the meetings, emails and calls necessary to refine the speech will result in a presentation that is truly your own. I recently worked with a client who – unbeknownst to either of us – speaks at a rate close to half the national average for english speaking Americans.This meant the 10 minutes of remarks we had written would have taken him 20 minutes to deliver!Don’t be afraid to share critical feedback when necessary, ideally when there is enough time to course correct (although rudeness is never appreciated). Outsourcing the writing of a speech will save you time over writing it yourself, however, the speech will only be as good as the time you invest in it. But it’s the only way to nail the timing and suss out any challenging phrases or structures.This means committing the time to doing the reviews, being honest in your critiques, sending background materials promptly and answering your phone when we call. Speeches are written to be heard not written to be read, and the only way to know how they sound is to read them out loud.
This led to major editing, and was only discoverable once he read a draft out loud.The highest compliment a speechwriter can receive is when an audience member says “that was his best speech ever,” seconded only by “it sounded just like him, only better.” Both are possible when there is a true collaboration between the client and the consultant.If you call in a writer a few days before you’re scheduled to present, there is only so much we can do (and it isn’t much). That question needs to be answered early and succinctly, and all the other content will flow from it. Many successful executives are actually quite introverted, and the most successful of them tend to be incredibly private, so this part of the process is challenging for them. We won’t use everything you tell us but we need to know the entire landscape so we can best curate the content.Remember we’re on the same team and the more we know, the more the speech will resonate as truly your own. Also, if we’re in this line of work we have thick skins. Executives have many resources at their disposal, other than time.Having partnered with a handful of new clients this year to research and write major speeches, I can tell you a few truths about those first engagements that might make yours go better than the average blind date. More time leads to more thorough research, more conversations that enable the writer to hear and capture your voice, and more refinement. (Hint: because they asked you to is not the answer). The client is the subject matter expert, the writer is the communications expert. The better we know the speaker, the better the speech we can write. What stories can we tell to highlight the key points?
Even better, it usually results in more time for practice – the holy grail of the best speakers. After you talk, what is it you want that audience to think, feel, believe and best of all DO differently then before you spoke? In the past weeks I’ve collaborated with clients to write speeches on entrepreneurship in the Middle East, the need for advanced scientific facilities for leading researchers, and intergenerational wealth transfer. Don’t worry if your writer doesn’t have a depth of experience in your industry;it actually enables them to bring a fresh perspective (ala the perspective of your audience in many cases) and true communications skills. But with a new client this is often more akin to speed dating – we need to get to know you based on a single call or series of emails. Tell us about yourself, your background, a favorite story or two (preferably ones that relate to your topic). Send us links so we can watch and learn your style and vocabulary. The writer needs to hear the good and the bad about your feelings on the topic, the audience and the intended outcome of the presentation. Personal stories are always best, but you need to let us know if anything is uncomfortable or off limits.