Good speechwriters know all about structuring a speech in advance, shaping it to the needs and interests of a particular audience on a particular occasion.
But what about delivery? Can speechwriters really understand what it’s like to stand in front of that audience and deal with surprises?
I don’t mean: getting slapped by an audience member who didn’t appreciate your joke1. The surprises can be – and usually are – more subtle.
Either way, it requires a constant reading of the room, and a willingness to adjust.
That means improvising.
If you’re a speechwriter, you may not think this applies to you, only to the person who delivers your speech.
But I suspect you will be an even better speechwriter if you know what it feels like.
This week, at the Speechwriters Conference in Cambridge, I’ll be running a session on impro techniques. I hope if you’re there you will join me.
1 Slapped. A reference, in case you are reading this long afterwards, to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars last night.