Vital Speeches, 911

Life at the Murrays has been especially chaotic these days—we’re moving out of town—and amid all the boxes a couple Saturdays ago, I got a call from the 20-year-old son of an old pal of mine. The kid had been tapped by his college to was introduce a major political figure who was appearing there—Tuesday!—and would I help him.

Out of panic for my own time, I told him to write the intro himself. And then I would look at it and make suggestions. The only advice I gave him was to acknowledge the thrill of the moment, embrace his inner political geek and not try to pretend to be a some cool political operative.

The next morning, I had the intro, attached to an e-mail time-stamped 4:15 a.m.

I read it. And added about seven wording suggestions and a bunch of [PAUSE HERE]s.

And told him to read it eight times before going on.

And he did. And he killed it.

The above scenario, spontaneous and panicked and putting most of the impetus on the speaker to figure out what he’ll say to the audience with only guidance and suggestions and objectivity coming from the speechwriter—this strikes me not as a makeshift speechwriting process, but rather the ideal speechwriting process.

(Congratulations, Joe.) —DM

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