Time for a change. I’d like a new challenge, yet put this knack for copywriting (plus a few other passions) to good use. After a good few months’ mulling it over, I think I’ve found the answer: speechwriting.
If all goes to plan, this’ll be the logical progression of ten years’ professional writing and a lifetime of showing off in public.
Now I’d like to illustrate the links between copywriting and speechwriting – as much for my benefit as yours, to explore the idea and cement the commitment.
1. It’s all about economy of words
Freelance copywriting makes you a deft hand at pruning words until they’re just-so. And envisioning how those words will be received and understood, optimally, is how I work my magic. In fact, it’s impossible to create clear words without maximum meaning, and minimum flummery as the goal.
So, less is more; whichever platform you choose to narrate your words from.
2. It’s all about the right words
Words are conduits for ideas, and making them flow smoothly and seamlessly together has always been my goal as a freelance copywriter. I already understand the importance of rhythm in a sentence, and continuity in tone of voice.
Public speaking demands exactly the same ability.
Likewise with putting the reader first – the golden rule for any self-respecting copywriter. Now reader becomes listener – time is ever precious, and there’s more at stake in getting your message across unambiguously.
Yet speechwriting success lurks in all the same places as copywriting: in tone, diction and threading together a compelling story from the facts.
3. It helps to be a ludicrous show-off
Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed using humour and vivid imagery to get my point across. Putting that knack into speechwriting will help me live that dream vicariously (and get rewarded for it). I hope to put humour and disruptive ideas into places they aren’t usually found – in the mouths of business professionals and would-be influencers.
I’ve also spent the last ten years helping people make their products and services stand-out. Who wouldn’t want the same for ideas in your speeches?
4. I know a crap speech when I hear one
While sitting through decades of dull presentations, lectures and conferences doesn’t necessarily qualify me as a speechwriter, what does is coming out of every bad experience ranting about how I’d fix it. One particularly unpleasant experience involved four hours of diatribes from grey men in suits about inspirational healthcare, followed by a baffling video about the efficiency of geese.
I’d like to prevent anymore of this monotonous time-wasting please.
There’s no such thing as a dull topic if you meet a willing audience halfway. I can prove there are fresh ideas and humour in every subject; I’ve written about everything from mattresses to dishes I’ve never tasted – all it takes is a little imagination.
5. Performance anxiety is all too common
I’m told I mask it well, but when I give talks about my book, compere events or perform stand-up comedy – I feel your pain. No one ever suspects I get the willies – even though my heart races at the idea of soiling myself live on-stage.
Anxiety is a natural response to exposing yourself to judgement from your peers, yet it can be tamed, through action and acceptance. I already have a process that works, and there are ways and means around stage fright (like humour and honesty) and I’d love to share them with aspiring thought-leaders.
Let’s leave it at a nice neat five, shall we?
Now I’m off to ponder my proposition, bone up and source a few low-key candidates to test my skills on (get in touch if you want some pro bono advice).
Freelance copywriting is already an immersive process, but the idea of inspiring someone with a lively script before they deliver a keynote speech thrills me. This feels very much like the leap I’ve been looking for – into an even more collaborative, consultative and creative career with words.