Since I was a young girl, I have always enjoyed expressing myself through writing. Growing up, I never missed an opportunity to transform a Hallmark card into a carefully crafted message to my parents, detailing how much they meant to me. Today, I do the same for my husband and children, using each special occasion as a chance to put my feelings into words. The best part is actually watching my loved ones read the card, listening to them laugh at the funny parts and cry at the more heartfelt parts. For me, the joy is in the moment when my words truly connect with them and cause an emotional reaction.
Fostering this emotional connection is a big part of what inspired me to start A Speech To Remember. When people ask me what I do, I find that describing my job as a special occasion speechwriter doesn’t really cut it. I like to explain that I’m a word whisperer. This means that I find the right combination of words to express people’s emotions and ideas in the most authentic way possible. While this isn’t always an easy process, this is where the fun lies. Through the process, I play so many unique and exciting roles, including:
Psychologist. The first step of any speech is really getting to know my client. I conduct an in-depth interview, including a series of questions designed to help me understand the speech giver, his/her relationship with the guest of honor and all the details that will help the speech come alive. Many of my clients have compared the intake process to a therapy session (in a good way). They tell me that thinking carefully about the answers to my questions help them get a better grasp on what they want to communicate in their speech. I try to provide a comfortable forum for them to share as much information as they’d like while I listen objectively to their stories.
Master organizer. Many clients have a good sense of what they want to say, but struggle with how to put it all together. I recognize that it is difficult for people to curate a lifetime of memories into a five-minute speech. That is why I spend a lot of time thinking about the structure of each speech. I look at all of the raw information available from the intake and carefully select the stories, memories and ideas I feel will resonate with the majority of the audience. By cherry picking these elements, I can help ensure the speech is organized in a way that makes sense and flows easily.
Storyteller. At the heart of every great speech is a great story. It’s my job to figure out how to weave this story together in a compelling way. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to start the speech in a way that will grab people’s attention from the beginning, how to provide enough detail through the middle of the speech to keep people listening and how to end the speech leaving people wanting more. I also pay attention to transitional words and phrases to ensure that all of the different elements tie together well.
Comedian. There’s nothing like a little humor to break the ice and keep the audience engaged. Wit and sarcasm are my specialty, provided that the speech giver is comfortable with that type of humor. I love to come up with the jokes that will make an impact while sounding natural.
Tear jerker. I’m a big believer in what I call “happy tears.” There’s something magical about the right words bringing someone to tears. Not everyone is open to expressing this type of heartfelt emotion, but I welcome all opportunities to infuse sentimentality into a speech. Some people are nervous about putting their emotions on display, but I believe that showing true feelings (even with tears) is a beautiful thing.
Coach. While I am very confident in what I write, it’s up to the speech giver to actually deliver the speech in a meaningful way. That is why I offer coaching and tips to help my clients feel as comfortable and polished as possible before taking the microphone. Sometimes recommending that clients put emphasis on a certain word or change their posture can make a big difference in the final delivery.
Honorary celebrant. I love that I am able to play a “behind the scenes” role for such a happy occasion. It’s such fun to hear from clients about how good they felt about their speech or the positive feedback they received on their performance. Even though I’m rarely there to hear the speech first hand, I like feeling like I was part of the celebration as my clients relive the highlights.
I feel so lucky to love what I do. Word by word, sentence by sentence, story by story, it’s an honor to help people craft their speeches. And when a speech makes a strong emotional connection with someone, I know I’ve done my job well. If you have a story to tell and want to learn more about how I work, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.