Speechwriting Skills

by Mike O’Mary

“I got skills… You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills…” — Napoleon Dynamite

ninjaI feel like a hypocrite. I am looking to hire a speechwriter. One of the requirements is that the speechwriter also have PowerPoint skills.

I feel like a hypocrite because if you have a good speech, you don’t need a PowerPoint presentation to go with it. But the requirement for PowerPoint skills stands nonetheless.

Let me get the self-serving part of this post out of the way: if you are a good speechwriter in the Chicago area with good PowerPoint skills, or if you know a good speechwriter in the Chicago area with good PowerPoint skills, please contact me via my personal e-mail address, which is mike at michaelomary dot com. Thanks.

Back to the requirement for PowerPoint skills…

Why does a speechwriter need to know PowerPoint? Because people expect it. My day job is writing executive communications for a Fortune 300 company. A recent audit showed that we produce about 120 “executive communications” a year for the company’s top two executives. Sometimes the “communication” is a relatively simple e-mail announcement to employees. But other times (about 40 times a year, in fact), the communication is a speech or a presentation.

More and more, we’ve been moving toward speeches rather than presentations. But most keynote addresses still come with the expectation that they will include a PowerPoint presentation. I think that’s just a fact of life for the foreseeable future. Still, I’m looking for a good speechwriter because my hope is that some day, if the speeches are consistently good enough, our speakers will get to the point where they feel so good about their speeches that they won’t want a PowerPoint presentation — because it will detract from their marvelous speech.

But until that day comes, best to keep up-t0-date on your skills…you know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills…and PowerPoint skills.

Mike O’Mary is founder of Dream of Things and of the Note Project. He is also responsible for executive communications at Discover Financial Services.

One thought on “Speechwriting Skills”

  1. Naw, not hypocritical, just realistic.

    For one of my clients, I interview scads of professional speakers — which I recognize isn’t the group you’re dealing with — but they’re resoundingly negative about Powerpoint. So, your goal of a PP-free presentation is a worthy one. Nunchucks optional.

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