What is a speechwriter?

A speechwriter is well-educated, and usually better educated both formally and informally than her workaday PR colleagues.

A speechwriter is well-read on current events. If not the Financial Times, at least The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

A speechwriter has a deep interest in some self-fascinating niche, and no shame about its quirkiness. Winston Churchill, Kaiser-Fraser automobiles, the history of the Washington Senators baseball team, French stained glass—speechwriters do enough research to know that Wikipedia is there for a reason, and the well-rounded intellect is overrated.

A speechwriter is introspective, often suffering from self-doubt.

A speechwriter is politically thoughtful, usually not settled on a political philosophy, but always carving away at one.

A speechwriter is shy, though he will sometimes cover it up by presenting an extroverted front.

A speechwriter pretends she doesn’t have any authorial pride. (A self-actualized speechwriter realizes she’s pretending.)

A speechwriter is a dinosaur, a relic of an age of specialization that’s gone the way of the typewriter at which speechwriters once sat, smoking pipes and dreaming up pretty phrases.

These days, speechwriters have to masquerade as ultimately adaptable communication generalists, as team players, as regular guys and gals.

But you can’t fool the editors of Vital Speeches.

And what’s more, you don’t need to try.

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