What Is Freelance Speech Writing

Freelance speech writing is​ the​ champagne of​ freelance writing; it​ offers a​ high degree of​ creativity,​ a​ high-profile clientele,​ and the​ chance to​ have your work heard among elite people. of​ course,​ there are downsides as​ well: your style is​ restricted to​ that of​ the​ speaker,​ and the​ pool of​ jobs is​ substantially smaller than many other forms of​ freelance writing. But on​ the​ whole,​ the​ advantages make it​ very attractive to​ pursue gigs as​ a​ freelance speech writer.

Speech writing is​ one of​ the​ oldest forms of​ communication. Much of​ what we​ consider good rhetorical practice today goes back to​ the​ Romans and Cicero. Until the​ previous century,​ long rhetorically-polished speeches were a​ central (and enjoyable) part of​ serious literature,​ from the​ hieratic diatribes of​ Shakespeare's Lear to​ the​ long burlesque flights of​ Dickens's heroes and grotesques. Today,​ speech writing is​ mostly confined to​ large formal parties,​ serious events,​ and political careers,​ but something of​ the​ dignity of​ the​ art's long history still adheres to​ people's ideas about roaring good speeches. Speech writing is​ the​ art of​ making people appear both persuasive and dignified,​ of​ turning ordinary people into sources of​ entertainment and wisdom. as​ expected,​ writing speeches effectively can be difficult to​ do well.

The key to​ effective speech writing--as well as​ the​ key to​ effective writing in​ general--is to​ know one's audience. in​ speech writing,​ the​ audience is​ a​ literal one: an​ employee pool,​ a​ group of​ wedding guests,​ or​ a​ rural electorate. the​ speechwriter should,​ before setting even one word to​ paper,​ find out who the​ speech is​ intended for and take this into account when structuring the​ work.

Once you know your audience,​ know your speaker. as​ Bernard Shaw once said,​ it's impossible to​ make a​ silk purse from a​ sow's ear -- or​ at​ least,​ people don't want to​ believe it's possible. if​ the​ CEO you're writing for is​ known as​ a​ good ol' boy,​ down-to-earth businessman,​ it​ won't ring true if​ your speech contains a​ number of​ high literary allusions and elaborate rhetorical constructions. if​ you're writing for a​ museum curator,​ opening with an​ off-color joke and referring to​ "the folks back home" is​ not necessarily the​ best way to​ go.

You not only have to​ know about your client's perceived character,​ but about his or​ her actual speech rhythms. Interview your client if​ possible,​ or​ if​ not possible,​ try to​ get access to​ videos,​ tapes,​ or​ other recordings. This should give you some idea of​ voice,​ and some understanding of​ how best to​ express your ideas in​ the​ "client's words." if​ a​ speech doesn't sound natural coming from the​ client's mouth,​ the​ speech won't work and you won't develop a​ good reputation that leads to​ more assignments. So put in​ the​ time,​ get a​ good idea of​ the​ client's voice,​ and use it​ exclusively in​ your work.

Framing your speech around the​ subject matter can be tricky,​ but fortunately all the​ prep work you've been doing will make it​ a​ much simpler proposition. if​ you know your audience,​ your client's speech style,​ and your client's public perception,​ you'll have a​ decent compass for navigating your speech through possible dead areas,​ out of​ dark,​ depressing moments,​ far to​ the​ lee of​ excessive frivolity,​ and generally on​ an​ even course from the​ first attention-getting moment to​ the​ conclusive point. It's difficult to​ know exactly how a​ speech will play before it's actually delivered,​ but you can get a​ rough idea by reading your drafts to​ a​ friendly audience (spouse,​ friends,​ children),​ or​ by tape-recording yourself delivering the​ speech into a​ mirror. a​ good speech doesn't have dead moments,​ doesn't bore,​ and reaches a​ series of​ short,​ conclusive points to​ keep the​ audience's attention from wandering over time. if​ you do plenty of​ revision work and get a​ real idea of​ how your speech sounds when read aloud,​ you can fine-tune appropriately in​ order to​ ensure a​ successful speech,​ and a​ satisfied customer.

Of course,​ getting customers in​ the​ first place can be tricky: the​ speechwriting market is​ usually fairly small and fairly exclusive,​ since only the​ very wealthy can usually afford to​ have professional speechwriters work for them. the​ Catch-22 here is​ that the​ very wealthy typically only want established,​ proven speechwriters,​ a​ difficult preference for novice speechwriters to​ deal with. You can establish yourself and build a​ reputation,​ however,​ by advertising heavily in​ local papers,​ club newsletters,​ and anywhere likely to​ need a​ speech writer at​ some point in​ time: wedding planners,​ local organizations,​ startup corporations in​ your area. This may not be the​ best-paying work,​ but it's essential to​ building a​ proven reputation as​ a​ good speechwriter. Once you have some gigs under your belt,​ start upping your level of​ advertising to​ include corporate newsletters and trade journals,​ and make sure to​ network at​ every event where you've written a​ speech. Word gets around,​ and eventually,​ if​ you promote yourself well,​ it'll get to​ the​ right people.

In any case,​ it'll be some time before your speech writing is​ well-known enough to​ command high prices,​ and to​ allow you to​ make it​ the​ exclusive focus of​ your freelance writing career. Keep up some other freelance jobs,​ write speeches whenever you get the​ opportunity,​ and keep up the​ self-promotion among the​ right circles. if​ you're talented and you're fortunate,​ you can make the​ switch to​ the​ champagne of​ freelance writing,​ and achieve that most satisfying of​ jobs: you can become a​ successful freelance speech writer.

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