What It’s Really Like To Be a Political Speechwriter 2020
Many times you hire a speechwriter to help you make your next speech. Hiring a speechwriter is a necessary step that many speakers consider.
However, many people make the mistake of being over-reliant on their speechwriter. I am going to talk about how to select the best writer for you.
As you are reading this you may have been making lists of possible options to consider, but no one told you that writers are worth hiring and which aren’t. You should make sure that you look at all three factors of How to Become a Speechwriter.
In order to do this, you need to ask yourself why you want the speechwriter to help you make your speech. There are many different reasons that people choose to hire a speechwriter.
They might just be interested in writing a good speech for you, or they might want to be hired because they want to be involved in the decision-making process. Whatever your reason, it is important that you find someone who can help you create a compelling speech.
In order to create a successful speech, you need to be able to use the words and ideas in your head in order to get them out of your mouth. A speechwriter needs to be able to do this.
Also, you need to be able to present your ideas clearly in order to get them out of your head and onto the stage. To do this, a speechwriter will also need to be able to explain to you how to put together your words.
Now that you know what you want from your speechwriter, how do you go about finding the best one? To start with, try to do some research on the person you are considering.
Read their website or look at the testimonials from other people who are happy to tell you how happy they are with the services of a speechwriter. The more you know about the person, the easier it will be to find someone that you like.
Next, if you do not already have a referral service, ask your friends or family members for their recommendations. If you do not know anyone in particular, then you should try Google searches, or by asking for recommendations from your colleagues.
Lastly, find out if the speechwriter you are considering has any references or even a current job. It might be worth your while to contact them personally if you think they could help you.
Hiring a speechwriter might be a big task, but it is certainly one that you should try to tackle. Once you find someone that you are happy with, you will be ready to use their services in many different ways in your future speeches.
How do I turn into a speechwriter?
I’m frequently asked how I became a speechwriter. And for all those searching for career assistance, I suspect my response is rather annoying: “Totally by opportunity.”
I’m being truly a little flippant, but this impulse is definitely shared by additional speechwriters I understand. Karen Duffin, in the podcast, talked about in my own last post, said that she “stumbled onto” her work as “a full incident.”
Very little help the aspiring speechwriter!
That the query is asked frequently, and the responses are therefore evasive, must reveal a truth concerning this profession:
There is absolutely no very clear or singular way to learning to be a speechwriter.
Thankfully, there are occasional parallels between the winding routes that have led some of us into this arcane profession. So, here is my entirely anecdotal advice on how to become a speechwriter.
The Press Office Route
Some speechwriters move into their role via a press or media office. After all, in big organisations, the speechwriter tends to sit within the communications function, alongside press officers, public affairs and other PR roles.
Press officers routinely draft press releases, blog posts and digital content. This copywriting experience naturally lends itself to speeches. As such, the press officer might make their interests known to their manager when an opportunity arises. Or, better still, they might create an opportunity for a principal to speak, and then offer an initial draft.
This option requires a couple of qualifiers.
First, there’s no point in joining a press office in an organisation that has no reason to communicate through speeches. So, the aspiring speechwriter must choose their industry or sector carefully.
Second, most speechmaking happens in political, business and administrative centres. We’re talking London, Washington, Brussels, etc. So, the aspiring speechwriter must also choose their geographical location carefully.
The Political Route
Other speechwriters, perhaps more interested in political speechmaking, begin by working for a politician.
They might start as a researcher or an administrator rather than a speechwriter as such. The point is simply to be present and keen when someone is looking to delegate a speechwriting task.
In the UK at least, some speechwriter jobs are as much about ceremony and tradition as they are about messaging. These jobs – those in the orbit of the Royal Family, for example – are best approached in a similar manner to political roles. The first step is to get your foot in the entranceway.
The Freelance Path (aka “I simply fell involved with it!”)
Personally, I came across speechwriting within a number of comms and editorial freelancing that I was carrying out alongside my PhD. There is an amount of fortuitousness – the idea was first proposed if you ask me by somebody who knew another person looking for a speechwriter – but I was also in a position to manage possibility and create chance.
To aspiring speechwriters presently employed in an unrelated career, I would suggest contacting anyone who may need a speech and providing your providers – free of charge, if appropriate. A lot of individuals find presenting and public speaking very hard. So, if you know somebody soon to provide a marriage speech or eulogy, offer to greatly help them draft it.
When you can create a portfolio, when enough time involves interview for a speechwriting function, you may be confident which you have the experience instead of simply the potential.
One little bit of assistance which I’ve received, and making me squirm a little but is nonetheless good advice, is usually “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.”
Put yourself out there. Write a blog (😳). Read blogs (I like Writing Shoes, Expression/Impression and the column, “The Art of Persuasion,” in the Financial Occasions ).
You might also join a membership organisation. I’m a member of the UK Speechwriter’s Guild and the European Speechwriter Network; the CIPR also offers speechwriting training. In the States, the Professional Speechwriters’ Association is usually an useful resource.
Prior to my first in-house speechwriting job, these forums taught me how to balance my literary way of thinking with the more corporate concerns of most speechwriting jobs.
Go Forth and Write!
So, I hope these are some useful tips. Do please let me know if any of these recommendations bear fruit!
Or, if you are a speechwriter already, I’d love to hear how you gained access to our strange and sometimes secret society.