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This image captures one of such days: For almost three weeks now, I have been engrossed in some painful research contracts on topics of higher education like doctorate in philosophies and speechwriting especially.
Some of these topics or themes shared with me were entirely new to my personal library and knowledge. These scripts, diplomatic and political in nature, were delivered in Sudan and here in Ghana, on the corridors of leadership of universities, boardrooms and during leadership workshops. Despite all the strain injuries resulting from the long hours of sitting and typing, I take consolation from the many encouraging words after these scripts are proof-read or delivered.
As a communication student eager to graduate out of agreeably the first and best communications university in the sub-region, GIJ, these times are indeed early exposures towards the opportunity to practise that which I have theorized over the years ; so I treated every single feedback like my professional life depended on it.
The first lesson is the caliber of brand you would wish to write for as a speechwriter. A well-written speech handed over to a brand who happens to be a glossophobia may end up a disaster. You do not have enough time on your hand to transform a “heavy-tongued” speaker into a brilliant orator on a night before presentation. In fact, I hold the strong view that this is not a part of your job. I recall an incident in 2017. A political speech I prepared for a business tycoon ended up closely to the above as he struggled to free himself/herself through to the end of the terrible experience. When mouthing the script by myself days before, it sounded like these words could be lifted easily off the paper. But it turned out to be a pain in the neck for the final orator. You may have very little opportunity to choose who to write for; so rather focus on diagnosing the oratory of your president if he is not a boss in speech-writing.
The second lesson is an extension of the first: you must speak the dictum and diction of your client. A president who easily gathers saliva in his mouth while speaking, needs very short sentences. Same for the one who often develops a dry and hoax vocal path. Those with oratory exceptions can afford to mouth the long and winding sentences. This concept comes to play beautifully when one puts the former president Mahama and President Akufo-Addo side-by-side under good delivery skills. Juicy topic to develop huh? Kabu smiles! I shall leave it here for now.
Thirdly, if possible, be there on the day of the speech or monitor to gather your feedback for the next script. That is why my style for sometime now has been recording a dummy delivery to the intended script-reader if he or she isn’t a “good talker of the script” ahead of his/her performance. The situation becomes different if the script ends up very “tall”. The migraine of every script-originator is when the client is not able to mouth the script to appreciate the intended message. Hence, after this evaluation is done, be sure to adjust the anatomy, spirit and soul of your speech meant for his delivery subsequently.
Above all, you may frustrate the next president or client by overly exposing his one-sidedness if all your scripts are based on philosophy, assertions rather than a compelling quantitative content (if need be). This demands some quality briefing and data collection from him or her as well as appropriate sub-organs. On issues of complex data, either a thorough pre-chat, validated research outcomes; or the best approach is, the financial mind should build the points with the complex figures while you flesh it up with language and later seamlessly weave it into the speech fabric.
The strategies in speechwriting may be many and sometimes take a text-book approach for many of my colleagues in the Public Relations class. Conversely, be sure to know that practice and experience become the best trainer. So Mr. President, I am still writing to perfect the act.
Lastly, the cluelessness when you begin is an experience all of us can relate to. I noticed my mood can throw me to the beach, the garage, inter alia. Sometimes with the craziest of recent songs buzzing in my ears or at the background. It is important the scriptwriter finds his or her elements to deliver; and this should be treated as a personal inspiration; therefore Mr. Client allow me some space!
So Mr. President, if I am to be your speechwriter in future, remember my style will be a combination of the above and more. And as a matter of seriousness, if my services turn out to be quality, do not hesitate to pay double of my legalistic entitlements. Until then, you can call for some business.
Kabu smiles again…
By Kabu Nartey