Presentation training vs. speech writing

I enjoy speech writing. It’s a little different from my public speaking and presentation training work but it uses a lot of the same principles. The difference is that I have to visualize my client doing the presentation or speech as I’m writing it. And for that, there’s nothing as valuable as good old face-face contact. My PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) colleague Bonnie Zink recently posted a link about the process and she agreed to have me post her comments here as a guest blog:

No substitute for face-to-face

I’ve been writing speeches for many years. I have learned through experience that there is no substitute for a face-to-face (F2F) (or phone call) meeting with the client before one word is written or edited. I find out several things during the meeting that I don’t feel would be as easily captured via email.

Capture their personality

First, a F2F meeting allows me to get to know the presenter. I’ve found that writing speeches is an exercise in living in someone else’s head. I need to know their speech patterns. I need to know their mannerisms. I need to know how fast or slow they speak (helps with gauging word count later on). I need to know if they are naturally witty. This helps me capture their personality on paper through the words I choose to write on their behalf.

The presenter’s point of view

Second, the F2F allows me the time to get to know the material from the presenter’s point of view. We discuss key topics. We discuss time allowed for delivery. I find out what their favourite quotes are. We discuss the presenter’s favourite anecdotes that may be helpful in showing the audience the concepts we are writing about. I find out who the audience is. I find out many more valuable tid bits that are priceless when it comes to writing (or editing) the speech.

The details

Finally, a F2F allows the presenter and I to get to know, and agree upon, the details of the project. We discuss deadlines, language, rates, as well as research and writing time estimates.

No substitute

I believe that there really isn’t a substitute for the F2F meeting. Email is great during the work, but an initial hour or two of face time is priceless. I find out more in that hour spent with the client than I can via the phone or emails.

Well said, Bonnie

As I read what Bonnie had written I found myself nodding in agreement. The only thing I would add is that it’s a lot of fun to, as she puts it, “live inside someone else’s head”. I’m glad to hear that other writers enjoy the process as much as I do. For me, speech writing is right up there with presentation training and public speaking training.

If you’d like to connect with Bonnie, here’s how to reach her:


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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

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