An “effective speechwriter” is …

Alex Tsigdinos runs the Blue Chair Group, an executive communication operation whose clients have included many CEOs, most prominently those at Daimler Chrysler. A client once asked Tsigdinos for a one-pager on “what to look for in a dedicated speechwriter and how the job differed from other PR jobs.”

Here’s what Tsigdinos came up with. What would you add (or subtract)? Write to [email protected]. —ed.


Effective Speechwriter


1) Writing Ability

• must write “for the ear” and not for the eye

• must write in the voice of the speaker

• must be creative with what are often dull subjects

• can articulate policy

• makes the speaker better

2) Intellect

• can converse at the intellectual level of clients

• naturally “curious” about how the product, company and industry work

• keeps up with current events in industry, society, politics and culture

• willing to take risk

• likes to argue (disputation) to understand all sides of an issue

• intellectually curious

3) Chemistry

• is comfortable with senior executives and vice versa

• can become “alter ego” of clients

• gains personal confidence and becomes confidant of clients

• diplomat in all relations

• builds a strong internal network—people like to work with them

• flexible

4) Corporate and Industry Knowledge

• understands and “has a feel” for the company and industry

• understands and can identify trends and forces that influence company

• understands the “product”

• gains a superior knowledge of all facets of the company and processes

Speechwriting Job vs. PR

• individual contributor—manages “up” not down

• academic in nature

• collegial—ability to work with others often significantly senior in grade

• works in larger “chunks”—and to absolute deadlines

• independent—less supervision and teamwork


Speechwriting Support of Executives

• Priority is an “inverted pyramid” of support

o CEO—speeches, presentations, executive communications (letters, etc.)

o COO—speeches, presentations

o EC

o Significant platforms for company

o Others

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