Speech Writers: Tips for Better Listening

When interviewing your client for a major speech, talk less and listen more. You’ll get better information – and the executive will get a better speech.

  • Sit quietly.
  • Watch body language.
  • Listen to tone.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Really: Don’t interrupt.
  • Remain silent as the speaker tells his anecdote or shares her data. Note exactly what your client emphasizes ( where she speaks louder , where he underscores a key phrase ).
  • Think: “What did I learn about this speaker’s messaging priorities?”
  • Also think: “What did careful listening teach me about my client’s public speaking skills?”
  • Use what you learn to write a speech tailored to your client’s unique needs.

    Remain silent while a client finishes telling you his account. Then paraphrase your client:

    “Now, let me make sure I get your priorities straight. First, CSR needs to …”

    At this point, you should get some feedback from your speaker. Feedback usually falls into two categories.

    A speaker might say:

    “That’s it! That’s exactly what I want to emphasize.”

    OR she might say:

    Well, no, not exactly. I do want CSR to ____, but first we need to ____.”

    See? The more you listen, the more you learn. And the more you learn during the interview phase, the less rewriting you’ll need to do later on.

    Ah, less rewriting … there’s the reward!

    Related: How to Ace Team Presentations