Title: What Is Freelance Speech Writing? Word Count: 913 Summary: Freelance speech writing is the cha mpagne of freelance writing; it off ers a high degree of creativity, a high-profile clientele, and the cha nce to have your work heard among e lite people. Of course, there are d ownsides as well: your style is res tricted to that of the speaker, and the pool of jobs is substantially smaller than many other forms of fr eelance writing. But on the whole, the advantages make it very attract ive to pursue gigs as a freelance s peech writer. Speech ... Keywords: writing, freelance writing, freelan cing, creative writing Article Body: Freelance speech writing is the cha mpagne of freelance writing; it off ers a high degree of creativity, a high-profile clientele, and the cha nce to have your work heard among e lite people. Of course, there are d ownsides as well: your style is res tricted to that of the speaker, and the pool of jobs is substantially smaller than many other forms of fr eelance writing. But on the whole, the advantages make it very attract ive to pursue gigs as a freelance s peech writer. Speech writing is one of the oldest forms of communication. Much of wh at we consider good rhetorical prac tice today goes back to the Romans and Cicero. Until the previous cent ury, long rhetorically-polished spe eches were a central (and enjoyable ) part of serious literature, from the hieratic diatribes of Shakespea re's Lear to the long burlesque fli ghts of Dickens's heroes and grotes ques. Today, speech writing is most ly confined to large formal parties , serious events, and political car eers, but something of the dignity of the art's long history still adh eres to people's ideas about roarin g good speeches. Speech writing is the art of making people appear bot h persuasive and dignified, of turn ing ordinary people into sources of entertainment and wisdom. As expec ted, writing speeches effectively c an be difficult to do well. The key to effective speech writing --as well as the key to effective w riting in general--is to know one's audience. In speech writing, the a udience is a literal one: an employ ee pool, a group of wedding guests, or a rural electorate. The speechw riter should, before setting even o ne word to paper, find out who the speech is intended for and take thi s into account when structuring the work. Once you know your audience, know y our speaker. As Bernard Shaw once s aid, it's impossible to make a silk purse from a sow's ear -- or at le ast, people don't want to believe i t's possible. If the CEO you're wri ting for is known as a good ol' boy , down-to-earth businessman, it won 't ring true if your speech contain s a number of high literary allusio ns and elaborate rhetorical constru ctions. If you're writing for a mus eum curator, opening with an off-co lor joke and referring to "the folk s back home" is not necessarily the best way to go. You not only have to know about you r client's perceived character, but about his or her actual speech rhy thms. Interview your client if poss ible, or if not possible, try to ge t access to videos, tapes, or other recordings. This should give you s ome idea of voice, and some underst anding of how best to express your ideas in the "client's words." If a speech doesn't sound natural comin g from the client's mouth, the spee ch won't work and you won't develop a good reputation that leads to mo re assignments. So put in the time, get a good idea of the client's vo ice, and use it exclusively in your work. Framing your speech around the subj ect matter can be tricky, but fortu nately all the prep work you've bee n doing will make it a much simpler proposition. If you know your audi ence, your client's speech style, a nd your client's public perception, you'll have a decent compass for n avigating your speech through possi ble dead areas, out of dark, depres sing moments, far to the lee of exc essive frivolity, and generally on an even course from the first atten tion-getting moment to the conclusi ve point. It's difficult to know ex actly how a speech will play before it's actually delivered, but you c an get a rough idea by reading your drafts to a friendly audience (spo use, friends, children), or by tape -recording yourself delivering the speech into a mirror. A good speech doesn't have dead moments, doesn't bore, and reaches a series of shor t, conclusive points to keep the au dience's attention from wandering o ver time. If you do plenty of revis ion work and get a real idea of how your speech sounds when read aloud , you can fine-tune appropriately i n order to ensure a successful spee ch, and a satisfied customer. Of course, getting customers in the first place can be tricky: the spe echwriting market is usually fairly small and fairly exclusive, since only the very wealthy can usually a fford to have professional speechwr iters work for them. The Catch-22 h ere is that the very wealthy typica lly only want established, proven s peechwriters, a difficult preferenc e for novice speechwriters to deal with. You can establish yourself an d build a reputation, however, by a dvertising heavily in local papers, club newsletters, and anywhere lik ely to need a speech writer at some point in time: wedding planners, l ocal organizations, startup corpora tions in your area. This may not be the best-paying work, but it's ess ential to building a proven reputat ion as a good speechwriter. Once yo u have some gigs under your belt, s tart upping your level of advertisi ng to include corporate newsletters and trade journals, and make sure to network at every event where you 've written a speech. Word gets aro und, and eventually, if you promote yourself well, it'll get to the ri ght people. In any case, it'll be some time bef ore your speech writing is well-kno wn enough to command high prices, a nd to allow you to make it the excl usive focus of your freelance writi ng career. Keep up some other freel ance jobs, write speeches whenever you get the opportunity, and keep u p the self-promotion among the righ t circles. If you're talented and y ou're fortunate, you can make the s witch to the champagne of freelance writing, and achieve that most sat isfying of jobs: you can become a s uccessful freelance speech writer.