I like to keep in touch with other freelance speechwriters.
We discuss recent trends, great clients and issues that drive us crazy.
Luckily, the first two outweigh the third. One of those “drives us crazy” issues is the clear divide between clients, typically communications managers, who feel speechwriters should be “onsite” and those who understand that, in the 21st century, distance is irrelevant.
I know what I’m talking about. I’m currently located in Germany, but I have a number of clients who live in other countries, including Canada, the United States and Mexico. I’ve heard both sides of the distance argument. Let’s take a look at both.
We Need You Here
Some comms managers need the reassurance of walking down the hall and finding their speechwriter. This is usually good for the manager, bad for the writer.
We’re social animals (err, not all of us) but when we’ve got five speeches to write and only five hours to write them, we don’t need to “take a break” and have something “run by” us.
What the manager usually wants is nothing a phone call or email can’t solve. And those vital office meetings? The worst. Huge time sink. Unless speechwriters are actually in speechwriting meetings, their time is wasted.
We Need You At The Event
A valid point. For events such as conferences where a closing statement is needed but simply can’t be written in advance, it helps to have a speechwriter onsite.
Still, events of this nature are the exception, not the rule.
Consider this: is it easier for the speechwriter to craft a speech with 300 people standing around offering “feedback”? Or is it something a quiet room, email and privacy could solve? Depends on the event.
How Do I Know If You’re Actually Working?
Do you have a speech in your hands at the end of the day? Check.
It’s Against Our Policy
Your organization is against freeing up office space? It’s against flexible work conditions? It doesn’t need to save money? It doesn’t need to find not just good speechwriters but the best speechwriters? Frankly, I’m not sure how much longer your organization will be around.
It Expands Your Pool Of Talent
I worked for a government department for a number of years. When we had to contract out work, managers went through the usual request for proposals routine.
They’d pick from the same list of writers confined to the same geographic space. An agonizing process, I should add, that took months.
The writers were good (some great), but were they the best? Does your organization do this? Have you been getting the same lines from the same speechwriters for years? What would a fresh pen bring to your organization?
It Improves Quality And Reduces Cost
Budgets everywhere are tight. Large organizations are often burdened with overwhelming financial obligations such as health care and pension costs. Frankly, hiring more full-time, in-house writers increases those costs.
A freelance writer is a better investment over the long term. It also allows organizations to be more flexible and, as per the previous point, the quality may improve as well. What’s not to like about that?
Technology Erases Borders
Technology has done for speechwriters what it has done for communications managers; it has opened new markets and new opportunities. Programs such as Skype allow writers to not only be involved in speechwriting planning meetings, it allows them to chair them.
It also allows them to manage the approvals process. The cost is close to nothing and programs such as Dropbox and Evernote provide easy and simple alternatives for collaboration of any sort.
I know from firsthand experience that speechwriting from a distance actually works. A few years ago, I was working as the senior speechwriter at a federal government department in Canada. My fiancé and I, a member of the foreign service for another country, then decided to get married. The problem?
We’d have to move to Texas where she was posted. I thought that was the end of my job. Instead, I was lucky enough to have a manager (and department) that was open to trying an experiment whereby I would write speeches from Texas. Things were still new on this front.
It worked. I’m sure we all expected the experiment to last maybe a few months. Instead it lasted for more than four years, three countries, six time zones, and ended only when I launched my own business.
I learned that writing speeches from a distance actually helped me become a better writer. I no longer had to suffer the horrors of office politics, participate in life-sucking process meetings or pretend to enjoy the smells of what my colleagues were eating for lunch.
Instead, I was in constant contact with my managers, I could be reached at any time and I had the privacy I needed. Other speechwriters have experienced similar results.
Opportunities to telework are not restricted to speechwriting. Many writing functions (copywriting, report writing) within an organization or communications department can also be done at a distance.
Why not give it a shot? Increase your pool of talent, reduce your costs, and embrace the freedom of choice that technology offers.
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