Freelance speechwriter builds assembly line for speeches

Six one-hour Skype calls—and a lot of work in between—take clients from ideation to manuscript to slide-show to delivery.

I deliver a lot of speeches. I write a lot of speeches for clients. And I’m cursed with the curiosity of an entrepreneur.

It wasn’t that long ago that these three factors came together in my brain and started to stew. They manifested themselves in annoying questions like:

How can I scale up my output, generating exponentially more speeches?

How can I bring aboard clients around the world, in every time zone and language, and give them killer speeches? All without spending a penny on infrastructure?

How can I create a consistent, and consistently high quality product, while reassuring clients with a proven methodology they ‘get’ and can buy into? 

I came up with a solution called Your Ultimate Speech. As a business, it delivers solutions to all these questions.

Speechwriters, however, might find particular value in the methodology we created for Your Ultimate Speech. It has delivered a clientele that willingly spends more time collaborating on their speech with us. It has given us a framework and timelines that bring consistency and structure to what previously had been ad hoc process for me. And it has enabled us to turn speechwriting into a team sport, accelerating the process of generating ideas, structure and content.

Here’s how it works.

Eliminate the barriers to collaboration

We work with our clients via skype. This enables us to connect with them whenever, wherever it’s convenient for them. Not 9 to 5, not when they’re in town. But in the airport lounge. At the hotel before they go to sleep. Sunday mornings before the kids get up. In those rare moments of peace in their crazy schedule.

One of our first clients had her speech written while she was enroute between Beijing, London and South Africa. We brainstormed with another client while he was sitting on a film set, waiting for shots to be set up.

Our clients don’t think of these calls as interruptions in their schedule. They see them as opportunities to get something important done during those annoying “between times” that are an inevitable part of their life.

Map out a process – and stick to it

If you look at Your Ultimate Speech’s website, you’ll see we have a six call process that delivers a manuscript, a slide show, and polished delivery.

Six one-hour calls to a standing ovation? That’s an easy, clear concept for executives to “get.”

It gives them a timeline. A deadline with clear results. A checklist of progress they can mentally tick off.

What’s more, it enables us to eliminate scope creep, endless back-and-forthing, and the ennui that accompanies projects without urgency.

Your words, not ours

I hate listening to clients recite manuscripts I write. Not because I’m a terrible writer. But the words aren’t theirs. They always sound like they’re reading a speech, not telling stories around the campfire.

We’ve eliminated this with a simple feature. The record button.

Once we’ve mapped out a speech structure for a client, we hit record and ask them to simply tell stories relevant to each point on the storyline.

Then we take the stories, transcribe them, and massage them into the speech.

The result? Our clients aren’t reading our words out loud. They’re telling stories they’ve told hundreds of times before. They feel comfortable, they don’t need to check their notes, and they build instant empathy with the audience.

Team sport

Years of working as an advertising writer and creative director taught me that creativity is a team sport.

Our structure demands quick movement from concept to story to finished product. There’s no room for writer’s block or burnout.

To that end, after every call the writer checks in with our editor. Together they explore what was covered in the call. The editor suggests modifications, the writer builds on them, and so on in a ‘laddering up’ of ideas.

What results is a speech that is richer and more dynamic, done at a very efficient pace.

At the same time, this “checks and balances” approach ensures that our quality remains consistently high—imperative for a company employing virtual talent.

It’s working

Early reports are positive. Our customers are recommending other customers. We’re getting great reviews. And more important, I’m seeing our clients’ presentations stand out like crazy at conference after conference.

Of course, we’re a young company. We need friends, clients, and collaborators. If you see yourself as any of the above, I’d love to hear from you.

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