Speech writing

Here too, the range extends from a simple translation of existing foreign-language speeches to their adaptation and deliberate localisation for specific target groups up to and including writing a completely new speech.

The formalities of speech writing are very similar to those of article writing, but for speakers who are at home in another language the task is vastly more complicated. Unlike article writing, when writing a speech the ghostwriter has to know how fluent the speaker is in English. Simply for that reason, closer contact between the ghostwriter and the speaker is indispensable.

The main requirement on a speech is brevity. Nowadays, invited panels are hardly given more than 15 minutes of floor time. This is the equivalent of about 3000 words of written text. An address by the guest speaker at a business lunch is about twice as long. What the speaker wants to say must be packaged concisely and, in this case, he has to do this in a foreign language.

Besides general linguistic quality, speeches intended for delivery in public must be adapted to the level of English language skills, the prevalent professional or national terminology, the customary courtesies and cultural sensitivities of the target group, and must also take account of the speaker’s English proficiency.