When most people hear the term speech writer they think about politics, and thought there are certainly many jobs in that sector, speech writing exists across a wide breadth of industries. Public relations teams rely heavily on speechwriters, as do c-suite executives pitching new ideas or products to investors.
Whether you want to be a staff writer for a company, or a freelancer who picks and chooses which speeches you want to write, the steps to having a resume worthy of achieving either are pretty similar. Here is a guide on how to become a speech writer.
As any sort of writing requires a firm grasp on the English language, a bachelor’s degree is all-but-required for aspiring speech writers. A master’s would, as in most cases, be even better. The fields of journalism, communications, and English are the most prominent, though some schools may offer a focus on classes to make you a speech writer.
If you already have a style of speechwriting you’d like to pursue, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to search for schools, as some are revered for producing great ones. In addition, a minor always looks good, and if you’re interested in political speechwriting, for instance, a minor in political science would add a big check mark in the pros column of your resume review (or a minor in whatever it is you’d like to make your focus).
For most jobs, the “experience” part can be more difficult than the education, as how does one get a job without experience, and how does one get experience without a job? In speechwriting, you don’t have to being doing paid work to bolster your portfolio. Write speeches for someone running for a local political office, write speeches for friends who are teachers or community leaders, or even write speeches for no-one. Regardless of the path you choose (freelance vs. staff), experience will be required, but in writing, it’s something you can start working on the second you finish this article.
Landing a Job
By the time you finish your education, you should have a pretty good idea which avenue you wish to take within the speechwriting world. Whether it be public relations, media, crisis management, PR, social media, marketing, or politics, finding a job requires similar skills, and some of those are beyond education and experience.
Speechwriting is meant to captivate, entertain, and even move audiences, so a perfectly ironed shirt won’t take you as far as a creative introduction in a resume or interview. You should also advertise yourself as determined and passionate about the subject matter, because in most cases, the person you will be writing for certainly will be. As the majority of speechwriting positions involve current events, you should also make sure your potential employer or client knows you’re up to date on things that you’d be writing about. Subtle hints in cover letters or resumes certainly suffice.
In a sense, landing a job is just persuading an interviewer(s) to hire you, so persuade away, just as you would in a perfectly written speech.
What to Expect
Expect a difficult shell to crack, as it is a very competitive field, but if you’re determined and take the time to study great speechwriters and hone your own skills, there is undoubtedly a future in the field for you. In 2021, freelancing is ever growing in terms of hiring, and 35% of work done within the U.S. was third-party in nature, so definitely look into that as well, especially if the job search is proving difficult! Worst case scenario, you add a few things to your portfolio while you continue your search.