This post argues that speechwriters shouldn’t worry about capturing a speaker’s voice. Structure the speech well, Mike Long argues, and it’ll all come out in the wash.
And while I understand that all the tailored turns of phrase in the world can’t save a bad speech, or turn a mediocre speaker into a great one, I can’t agree with Mike’s premise. (Not that I don’t want to; I want to agree with anyone who has Steely Dan lyrics in their Twitter bio. Maybe next time.)
Here’s what I said in response; I’d love to know what you think.
I get what you’re saying, Michael — and I heartily agree you should get the fundamentals right before you even begin to think about voice. And it’s amazing how often a speaker will say you’ve “captured their voice” just by writing in a conversational tone.
But you can definitely make a speaker feel more at home with speaking notes that reflect their vocal patterns and preferred word choices. It isn’t all delivery. Some speakers are far more at home with bold, declarative statements than others. They express emotion in different ways. They use idioms that reflect their age, gender, race, culture, social class, life experience… and it’ll all be different.
And if your speaker lacks confidence, experience or time to revise? The more comfortable they feel with your text from the start, the better.
So yes, get the fundamentals right. But once they’re nailed, time spent reflecting your speaker’s authentic voice will be well worth it.