There is nothing like buzzing around a hive of like-minded, beautifully long-winded colleagues – and I say that with love, believe me. The recent Ragan Speechwriters' Conference in Washington D.C. was one of those occasions. I learned a hell of a lot from these pros, and dollars to donuts they didn't even know how many subtle insights they were revealing.
While there were no panels titled “What kind of person you need to be”, "What you need to do" and "Who can help you", those were the three key takeaways that soaked into my bones over the course of the conference.
My last post touched on the personality types most suited to communications success. This week : What do you need to do to be a successful speechwriter and executive communicator?
Two simple words: Keep growing.
The best executive communicators are agile and versatile. They can spot holes in the leadership fabric and know how to patch them in creative and powerful ways. They don't sit on their butts or rest on their laurels (although we all need to rest on our butts every once in a while). "Keep reinventing yourself" is advice we are foolish to ignore, especially in this day and age.
Panelists discussing the similarities between corporate and political speechwriting hammered home this point: As communicators, we toil in a very fungible field. None of us has real job security (who does these days?) - leaders leave, teams churn, jobs evolve. It is up to each of us to enhance our value by continually expanding our craft.
Some of the most interesting sessions I attended at the conference included “How to create a TED talk” (Mike Field of Johns Hopkins), “How to make your executive into a thought leader” (Pete Weissman) and “How to coach your speaker” (Nick Morgan). These are examples of adding powerful creative value to our work as speechwriters. After all, we're writing speeches with the intent of communicating - exploring and mastering innovative avenues of communication makes us and our speakers look good. Plus it's a lot of fun.
This is yet another reason why coming to a conference like this one is so valuable: being around folks who do the same kind of work (much of which can be very solitary and isolating) rejuvenates and recharges me like nothing else.
Next time: Who can help you become the kind of speechwriter or executive communicator you want to be?