Words.

We think them.

We write them.

We hear them.

We say them.

We sing them.

Words.

Image: Hello Turkey Toe’s Flickrstream, Creative Commons

They are the stuff we humans are made of, ever since speech was invented (which itself is up for debate).

They are so much a part of our lives, they often become trite.

Yet for us communicators, they are our coin; what we use to demonstrate our knowledge of our craft, our proficiency at our trade, our ability to help our organizations and clients transmit the core of their businesses to the people they want to reach.

Speech writing is perhaps one of the most delicate aspects of our craft.

Because not only do speech writers have to be good writers, they have to, in a way, be John Malkovich every day.

They have to write words that others will utter, but write them in a way that seems wholly natural in delivery – at least, that’s what good speech writers have to do.

Which means getting into the minds of those they are writing for. They have to not just think like a reader, but think like a listener.

I imagine no one knows this better than Matt Teper, Vice President’s Biden chief speech writer.

Last week Matt spoke to IABC/DC Metro (disclosure, I’m current chapter president), and gave us a fascinating look into what a typical day in his life is like.

He didn’t exactly say this, but my guess is that the word “typical” has temporarily been suspended from Matt’s vocabulary, and I’m pretty sure you can guess why.

After the meeting, Matt sat down with me to chat about what communicators who write for others – for a living – can do to kick their work up a notch or two.

Here it is.

What do you think of Matt’s tips? Do you have others to add?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke