As hired pens speech writers are always faced with the dilemma of how hard to push back when we think a client is being unreasonable. I am talking about the CEOs who have given no thought at all to what they want talk about at the one and only meeting you are going to have with them. Or the ones who won’t read their drafts out loud at least once before they face their audience. Or those who want to review the draft with you before they have even glanced at it – resulting in a lot of time wasted as he/she edits and re-edits on the fly. Inevitably mudding the waters.
You may want to push back at all this. Resist. The truth is, no matter how inefficient we think their process is, it is their process, and their money and we need to adjust accordingly.
Where push back is more important and where you must take a stand is in the text itself. I have always believed that if the speech in the first instance meets the needs of the audience rather than the needs of the speaker to deliver his favourite message, your client will be very well served indeed. So you have to push back when he/she want to say everything. To talk about process. To talk features over benefits. About internal restructuring. About all those things most audiences have no interest in. When this happens I can pretty well tell you by exactly which paragraph the audience will begin to fall asleep.
So, when it comes to the process of getting from first draft to final product it is their time – billable time at that. So give in to the inevitable.
When it comes to the structure of the speech, the matter of messaging, story telling, and keeping the musical thread consistent, you push back hard if they resist. Push back hard enough to where one of you is going to fire the other. Then you have done your job.
Then you know you have done your job.