Why speechwriters must pay attention to basic logistics

Miscues concerning venue, schedule, or A/V equipment can sabotage a speaker.

Miscues concerning venue, schedule, or A/V equipment can sabotage a speaker

When Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowan spoke at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day he started reading President Obama’s remarks. The teleprompter had the wrong speech loaded. Someone had screwed up. The speechwriter did not double-check with the teleprompter operator beforehand.

Fact was following fiction.

One episode on the first season of The West Wing opens with speechwriter Sam Seaborn sitting at his desk. He’s composing President Bartlett’s remarks to be delivered later that day at an outside venue in DC. His boss, Toby, warns that the phrase, “As I look out over this magnificent vista” won’t work if it rains and the event is moved indoors. Sam swears it won’t rain. Cut to the closing scene where Bartlet is about to speak inside an auditorium (where there is no magnificent vista) because it has, in fact, rained:

We hear Bartlet inside the auditorium. The staff stands watch by the door.

Toby and Sam just realized something.

Toby looks away in frustration as Sam slams his notebook.

Logistical nightmares

It’s often the logistical minutiae that cause irreparable damage to a speech.

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