The following Q&A originally appeared in the Washington Examiner, February 20, 2012:
What was one of your biggest challenges in becoming a speechwriter?
The hardest thing is developing a thick skin. When you are working on a speech, there are a lot of people delivering edits and you can write a lot of content that you think is great but doesn't make it to the final draft. You will never make it in the long term if you are too territorial about your words.
What is the most important piece of advice for someone giving a speech or presentation?
Don't try to give too big of a speech. When people think about speechwriting or standing behind a podium they think of the State of the Union. You get into trouble when you try to write in a way that is too big or too grand for the moment. My philosophy -- and this is kind of my bumper sticker -- is to use small words to express big ideas.
Who are your clients?
The people I work for range from very polished senior corporate executives to someone who is giving a presentation at a local chamber and has never given a professional speech.
What's your specialty?
What we really focus on most is helping senior executives develop thought leadership. If you want to be the CEO that the Wall Street Journal has on speed dial, you get there by being "out there" -- by regularly talking about issues and being a thought leader.
What makes a good speechwriter?
You have to have one foot in communications, one foot in policy and a third foot in writing. And you have to understand not just how to sound good, but how to make an impact, move the conversation forward and help people talk in compelling ways.
-- Hayley Peterson