Have you ever heard of Ted Sorenson, Jon Favreau, or William McGurn? They have crafted some of the world’s most memorable speeches. These speechwriters have made their living by writing speeches that are heard by audiences around the world.
Speechwriters are wordsmiths who write powerful speeches that are delivered by someone else. These ghostwriters generally receive no credit for their wise words. It might surprise you how many speeches you hear that are actually written by a talented speechwriter and not the presenter.
Speechwriting is a unique kind of writing that mixes public relations with professional writing. You’ve probably heard the hard work of speechwriters at political campaigns, presidential addresses, business meetings, university graduations, city council meetings, and many other places. Usually a speechwriter working behind the scenes wrote the best speeches you hear.
Speechwriters are factual storytellers that use their words to help the speaker captivate and move an audience. Speechwriter Anthony Trendl describes the job as “a kind of writing that merges marketing, theater, public relations, sales, education and politics all in one presentation.” It’s a demanding job with lots of opportunities.
To craft a memorable speech, speechwriters meet with the speaker to establish the purpose of the speech. This helps to establish a framework for the speech so the speechwriter can develop a presentation strategy. Next the speechwriter must research topics and audiences. Then they craft the speech in a logical order and start to write.
While doing this, they must meet the goals of the speaker and match the speaker’s presentation style, tone, word usage, cadence, and voice. Often speechwriters will study prior speeches by the speaker to ensure that they match his or her delivery techniques and tactics.
The speechwriter is responsible for supplying metaphors, analogies, news, events, statistics, and facts that are accurate, current, precise, and relevant. They must break down complex information so that the audience can understand it. Before the speech can be delivered, the speaker must approve it. This step can result in lots of editing and many drafts.
Speechwriting can be a tough and stressful job. Dealing with demanding deadlines, complex topics, broad audiences, and detail oriented speakers can cause even the most dedicated speechwriter to get frustrated. It’s not uncommon for speechwriters to be tasked with crafting multiple speeches at once. It’s challenging work, but it’s rewarding to see a speaker deliver your speech and to watch the audience’s reaction.
To become a speechwriter, you need a degree in writing, journalism, political science, public relations, or communications. Start a speechwriting portfolio and feature it on your website. Find videos of your speeches in action if possible. Try to focus on a specialized niche such as political speeches, business speeches, or graduation speeches to hone your writing skills.
Once a speechwriter has an impressive portfolio, they can find work or internships with large companies, political campaigns, politicians, public figures, government offices, Internet broadcasters, television stations, and public relations firms. An established speechwriter can make anywhere from $42,000 to $187,000 per year.
Pay depends entirely on the employer. An entry-level speechwriter writing speeches for the local town council won’t make as much as a seasoned speechwriter who is traveling the globe writing speeches for the US President who is delivering speeches on the world stage.
Next time you hear a speech, listen carefully. That charismatic character delivering the speech is not always the genius behind the words. If you have a knack for expressing yourself through your mastery of words, maybe you should consider finding a job as a speechwriter.
Quick Facts About Speechwriter Careers
Job Title: Speechwriters
Office: Computer based job
Description: Write speeches that are delivered by other people
Certifications/Education: Bachelor’s degree, Speechwriting portfolio
Necessary Skills: Writing, Accuracy, Mastery of language
Potential Employers: Politicians, Business executives, Large companies, Government agencies
Pay: $42,000 to $187,000 per year