Executive communicators: earning your pay

To be a great speechwriter, you must be a strategic thinker as well as a wordsmith.

While talking with a fellow speechwriter who had just taken over executive communication duties at a Fortune 50 company, she asked me whether I had any advice for her.

Cheeky responses flooded my brain:

On reflection—which is to say after a good glass of Shiraz—I decided that the best advice I could truly give was that, “Tactics got you the job, but strategy will keep you employed.”

Like most of us, you probably got the job of speechwriter because you’re a good speech tactician. You enjoy trying to match language with an audience’s needs. You’re good at figuring out the right cadences that will stir the soul of the most cynical member of the audience. You relish the fine art of building solid arguments that put your speaker in the realm of the unassailable. You’re a master of dropping in rhetorical devices that keep an audience awake without making your speaker sound like a pompous baboon.

Good speechwriters are valuable tacticians and are worth every dime the company spends on residual psychological counseling.

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