Nominations for the 2013 Cicero Speechwriting Awards have opened. I love the thought of honoring speechwriters; our jobs are entirely about helping others make the most of their time in the spotlight, and it’s nice to see smart, talented folks get public acclaim for outstanding work.

For me, it highlights a dilemma – because I’ve always shied away from taking credit for my clients’ speeches. The best speeches are a collaboration; even when the speaker hasn’t participated in crafting the words (rare, in my experience), the act of delivering the speech transforms it through choices such as pace and emphasis, and through the context of the speaker’s reputation. And ultimately, it’s my client who bears the weight of responsibility for the speech’s content.

If someone in the audience who knows your métier nudges you and asks, “Was that line yours?”, how do you answer? Do you go even acknowledge a role in the creation of a speech?

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