Speechwriting for somebody else

Ghost speechwriting

Ghost speechwriting

I’ve been taking a lot of time in the past week to really consider the implications of speechwriting for someone else. In my opinion, I’ve managed to break it down in to four key areas that need to have strong consideration to make the speech that you write seem ‘real’.

By ‘real’ I mean a speech that is true to the speaker that the audience truly believes that the speaker wrote the speech themselves and that they mean and believe every word that they say.

Here’s the four areas I think should really be focused upon when writing a speech for someone else:

Language

Firstly, to appear ‘real’ the speech must use the same language and turns of phrase that the speaker uses when normally conversing with their audience. This may mean that you need to use highly advanced language (long, unusual words to show a great grasp of the English language) or simpler language, with everything put in to layman’s terms.

There may also be localisms, specialist terminology and in-jokes to consider – meaning you need to spend the time talking to your speaker before speechwriting to really understand how they communicate.

Personality

Is your speaker, laid-back, serious, friendly or cold? What do their audience expect of them as a speaker in terms of personality and what will best help them to achieve their speaking goals?

The personality of your speaker needs to be conveyed by the structure of the speech (clear, or more conversational?), the content and the language. If the correct personality is not conveyed the audience will not feel like they are receiving a speech from someone that they have previously known.

Negative personalities that will not help the speaker to achieve their goals or will not impress the audience should be avoided, and minimized in the speech where possible. The structure and content of the speech may also be able to be ‘spun’ so that the potentially negative personality actually helps convey the message in an interesting and original way.

Skills

What are the existing speaking skills of your speaker? Are they nervous or confident? Is any confidence they have real, or just bravado?

More confident speakers can generally handle a more advanced speech containing more subtle, yet essential linguistic devices and argument forming, whilst nervous speakers find that a clear, simple and logical speech is easy to remember and deliver in the heat of the moment.

Relationship with audience

What relationship does the speaker have with his or her audience currently? Is it positive or negative – will the audience be cold or warm to the message that is being delivered? If a friendly tone is adopted for a hostile audience, everyone will feel a little awkward!

What are everyone else’s views on items to consider when speechwriting for someone else?

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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