How speechwriters can build relationships with their speakers

Getting the CEO to sit down with you can be a challenge, much less getting him to open up and share some personal stories. But fear not. These tips can help.

If you’ve ever written a speech for someone other than yourself, you know it can be challenging.

You have to understand a person’s ideas, learn his speaking style and simply get him to find the time to sit down with you.

Rosemary King, PhD., former speechwriter for Defense Secretary Robert Gates and two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a few suggestions for establishing a strong relationship with your speaker. If you can build a relationship, together you can create unforgettable speeches.

Some of her suggestions are to:

  • Study the people who do have access to your speaker. If you can’t get the speaker to talk with you, think about what you can do for those who do have access to your speaker. By helping the people who work with your speaker (writing an agenda, taking notes, etc.), you may get to interact with that person by default.
  • Take advantage of transition times. When you sit down with a busy CEO, she will inevitably have to take a call or briefly leave the room during your meeting. Use that time to glance around the room and find things that might have a story behind them that you could include in the speech.
  • Write really good speeches. This one is obvious, right? But remember, when you consistently produce strong work, you will become the boss’s go-to communications person.

Hear more of King’s tips:

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