Speech Writer

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Speech Writer


Most politicians and company chairpersons who appear to be powerful and intelligent orators are actually reading speeches written by speechwriters. People who need speechwriters are generally very busy and successful people. Speechwriters are hired because they have the talent and skills to write clear and logical speeches for audiences to listen to. Generally, they put words in the mouths of candidates and elected officials and without them, politicians would not sound nearly as articulate or well informed. Speechwriting is a technical and creative process that requires a lot of mental energy and discipline.

Since speeches are intended for a certain occasion and audience, such as an inauguration or company meeting, there are strict deadlines that need to be handled at once. Speechwriters who work for the government sometimes have to write a speech for a press conference with very little time. For example, in the outbreak of a war, the President of a country will address a nation to keep them informed about what is happening. Therefore, the speechwriter must compose a speech quickly and efficiently.

A more stressful or challenging part of the job is that speechwriters are writing speeches for someone else to give. Therefore, they are crafting a speech to sound like it came directly out the politicians' mouth. A politician may not like what a writer likes or have the same beliefs. Yet, that is something a speechwriter learns to accept and a reason why most work for people and government groups they support and share similar opinions with. That is the best way to make this career rewarding.

Like advertising copywriters, speechwriters have the ability to communicate their ideas to others in a persuasive fashion. A speechwriter is one of the most important and integral ingredients in a government party, company or agency. Speechwriting is also very rewarding because writers get to work directly with the top executives and politicians who are giving speeches.

When composing a speech, the writer must consider the audience they are writing for. If the speech is about economics in underdeveloped countries and intended for a teenage audience, the speechwriter must gear the tone and subject matter for the specific audience. Similarly, a politician or executive will tell the speechwriter what points they wish to cover in the speech and make sure that the writer addresses them in the way they want. Finally, many speechwriters begin their careers as journalists, technical writers or any other types of writers and move into the speechwriting area with experience.
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  Interests and Skills  
Speechwriters require excellent communication skills, both in writing and in person, with the ability to think logically and generate an unending supply of fresh, exciting and new ideas. Many have an outgoing personality and can relate well to the politicians they write for, clients, coworkers and their intended audiences. Accordingly, speechwriters should be able to give and take constructive criticism and rework their original ideas numerous times until clients are satisfied.

Most have a general interest in politics or social issues and can persuade their ideas to people via the speaker. Speechwriters thrive on pressure situations and enjoy finding innovative solutions to problems. Finally, they should be very organized and know how to manage their time properly.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Write speeches for politicians, company CEOs and clients
  • Consult with politicians and follow written instructions that specify the messages and specific points to be conveyed
  • Research the product or issue they are writing about
  • Work with a team of writers to determine the most effective ways of attracting the attention of the target audience
  • Collaborate with team members to determine the conceptual direction of the speaker's initiatives
  • Influence audience and societal attitudes and beliefs
  • Sell their ideas to clients, supervisors and account executives
  • Edit and proofread speeches for accuracy and clarity
  • May specialize in writing for local and regional companies, national corporations, government departments, retail outlets or non-profit associations
  • A typical day for a speechwriter will involve writing speeches and meeting with advisors and orators. They industry is intensely fast-paced and pressure filled, therefore speechwriters must be able to deal with the pressure of working on many projects at the same time and meeting deadlines. The majority of speechwriters work standard workweeks with occasional longer hours when deadlines are looming and work needs to get finished. The writing aspect is usually completed in the office, unless the speechwriter is a contract worker that works from his or her own home.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Speechwriters are employed by all levels of government, large businesses and corporations, advertising agencies, newspaper and magazine publishers, radio and television stations, and private consulting firms. Some are also self-employed and work on a freelance basis.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Most entry-level speechwriters start working with smaller organizations, local government politicians or as journalists. With experience, they progress to write speeches for politicians in the federal government and for heads of large companies and organizations. Speechwriters may use their writing skills to move into areas such as copywriting, magazine and newspaper writing, technical writing, scientific writing, public relations, fundraising or marketing. They may also choose to move into a different area of the media or work on a freelance basis and accepting contracts on their own terms.

  Educational Paths  
Most speechwriters have an undergraduate degree in communications, journalism, political science or a related field. Many speechwriters also write for student papers and related writing projects. Most government employers prefer to hire people who have bachelor's degrees with specializations in English, communications or political science.

Speechwriters are encouraged to keep a portfolio of writing -- both published and non-published material. Again, writing for a school newspaper or magazine is excellent experience and volunteering as an intern in the government or completing a co-op is excellent experience. This way, one can see first-hand what it is like to work as a speechwriter and then decide whether or not they want to pursue this as a career.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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