Official Blog of Bannon Leadership Consulting Founder Shawn Bannon

Tips for Speechwriters (and Other Communications Professionals): Getting Your Speaker to Deliver the Speech that You’ve Written — Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted the first in a series of five tips I’m offering to help speechwriters build stronger relationships with their speakers in order to help their speakers become more effective at delivering their messages.  At least some of these tips can probably help out other communications professionals who may be focused less on speechwriting and more on media prep for executives or investor/analyst/employee meetings and calls.  At the end of the day, our job as communicators in support of public and private sector leaders is to help them connect with the audience they want to reach.  And these tips can probably help us all do that a bit more effectively.

So here’s tip two in this series of five …

Tip 2.      Give your speaker time to practice, and make sure he does it.

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that the day the speech is to be delivered is not the day your final draft is due to your speaker.  But for many of us, procrastination is part of the creative process.  We also know that it can kill any chance you have of getting your speaker to deliver a fantastic speech.

Try to establish a “final” draft as far in advance of the actual event as possible.  There may be changes made to the text up to and even during delivery of the speech, so it isn’t really final until the event is over.  But if you can get your speaker to sign off on a final draft a week or two in advance of the event, any changes he makes will be the result of reading – and therefore familiarizing himself with – the language you’ve provided.

With a final draft in hand, schedule time for your speaker to rehearse his delivery.  Suggest that he go over the speech once or twice alone, and then meet with him to make observations, suggestions and minor revisions if you find him tripping over any of the language.  If you can put him behind a podium or stand him at the front of an auditorium to rehearse, all the better – even if he’s only delivering the speech to you. 

And here’s a bonus tip if you can get your speaker to rehearse.  Invite your speaker’s administrative assistant – if he has one – to attend rehearsals.  These people sometimes spend more time with our busy speakers than the speakers spend with their spouses.  They know how our speakers think and talk.  They often feel more comfortable giving honest opinions to our speakers than we do.  So, their presence at rehearsals is rare but can be invaluable.

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