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Write and publish with love and fury.

How to Hire a Speechwriter (and how Power Point fails you)

  A well-crafted speech can sell you, your company, a new strategy, your book or your message. As you make the speech your own, practicing and practicing, you’ll make small adjustments along the way. Ideally, your speechwriter will have enough interaction with you that the speech will sound much the way you talk, but better.



Speechwriting is a specific skill tying marketing to information and persuasion (and usually entertainment.)

The speechwriter may do some research related to your project, but generally, you or your company will be providing the core information. And you’ll need to provide lots of it. I’ve written half-hour to hour speeches. For one coherent message, I had to read through dozens of documents and interview one or more people to arrive at the content to be delivered.

Before you pick up the phone to call a speechwriter, the most important question to answer will be this: what is your core purpose for this speech? Every speech must communicate value, but who is your audience and why are you talking to them? Is this a membership drive for your organization? Is this a review of the deliverables you’ve provided to stockholders and stakeholders? Are you asking for money? Are you demonstrating how the money you were given was wisely spent? Are you proposing a new project or a new direction for your organization? Who are you trying to persuade and what do you want the audience’s take away to be?*

Shocker 1: Don’t depend on Power Point templates. They lock you into an outline that won’t suit your presentation.

Shocker 2: Don’t depend on Power Point to do all the work. The speech and how well you deliver it comes first. Power Point is not your speech. It is an accessory.

Shocker 3: They call it death by bullet point. Your Power Point slides should be mostly cartoons and pictures that accessorize your brilliant speech.

Shocker 4: Many good speakers do well without bothering with Power Point. Many poor speakers read their Power Point deck to the audience, turning their backs to the group. They lose their audience because the people in the chairs can read faster than you can speak.

What about fees? My fee for an hour presentation is $4,000 (not including Power Point.) Typically, one speech is delivered repeatedly and once I deliver the final product, it’s yours forever. Speechwriting is heady stuff. It’s the most exciting corporate work I do. Unlike unread pages at the back of an annual report, speeches can change things (laws, membership numbers, policy, income, and even minds.) If you have a speech you want crafted contact me about your project here.)

How to help your speechwriter:

A. Provide the fodder for the content. Your company or association has research. Make it all available to your writer and when he calls to ask a silly question, make time to answer that question. Remember, your writer is in the business of making you look great in front of a room of important people (whether you’re brilliant or not.)

B. For a great speech, give lots of warning to your writer. Long deadlines make for better speeches.

C. Whoever is to deliver the speech should probably be the contact person for the speechwriter. There are exceptions to this guideline, but please keep in mind a speech edited by a committee is like a horse put together by committee. You get a camel.

*The take away is the one core message the audience will be talking about when they get into the parking lot. They won’t remember much. Whatever the take away is, you want that part to be especially memorable. The most amazing speeches will only have two or three things that stick (and one of those things will be your best joke.)

Filed under: Speeches, speechwriting, ,

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