The 5 roles of a speechwriter that may surprise you

Speechwriters do more than string nice-sounding words together. They act as journalists, humorists, psychotherapists and more.

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Woody Allen said 90 percent of being a success was turning up. I’d say you’re 50 percent of the way to becoming a professional speechwriter if you read every speech you write out loud. You’d be surprised how many people don’t.

I spend a lot of time searching for texts of speeches on the Internet. A lot of speeches from the CEOs of banks, international organizations and insurance companies are online, and you soon realize no one could have read them out loud before they delivered them—the speeches are so verbose and dreary.

I’ve given it careful thought, and I’ve concluded that I play five different roles as a speechwriter:

1. Journalist

I trained as a journalist. I worked for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.

The most important skill of a journalist is to be able to research a story. My clients don’t have the time to spend five hours looking deeply into a subject.

A newspaper has the resources to support a journalist. I have reference books, the equivalent of a cuttings library, and a large collection of jokes and stories, which work well in speeches.

It means experience counts for something.

2. Fantasist

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