Why YOU Can Be a Better Speechwriter

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Written by Nicole Thomson-Pride

Nicole Thomson-Pride has written speeches for Prime Ministers, CEOs and keynote speakers, as well as articles for high-profile Australian media publications. She is a passionate communicator who is equally passionate about helping other people communicate better. Nicole is the Australian Ambassador for World Speech Day and the co-chair of the next Asia-Pacific Speechwriters Conference.

June 21, 2021

Why YOU Can Be a Better Speechwriter

A post popped up in my LinkedIn feed last week that gave me all the feels.

A man shared a letter from 17 years ago. It was addressed to him from a senior officer in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The man, who had been a 12-year-old boy at the time, had written to the RAAF and sent them designs for two new aircraft. The senior officer had replied, commending his ingenuity.

The man said the letter from the senior officer had “ignited a fire” in him, and despite setbacks and challenges, it kept him moving forward. Now 29 years old, he is on a path to achieve his dream, studying Physics and working at a start-up in the Defence industry.

The story resonated with me because it reminded me of another overly ambitious 12-year-old: it reminded me of me.

When I was 12 years old, I was desperate to be a writer. I walked into the local news agency, with pen and paper in hand. I opened the cover page of every magazine that I knew and wrote down its telephone number. Then I walked to the closest pay phone and started calling all the magazines on the list. Begging them if I could do work experience with them.

It was such a long shot. I was 12 years old and reaching for the stars, calling the biggest publications in the country. The same publications that all the journalism university students would have called months earlier, also asking to do work experience with them.

There were so many reasons why every magazine would say no. But rather than a list of obstacles, I saw a list of opportunities.

I had called about two-thirds of the magazines on my list before CLEO magazine finally said yes. Later that year, I walked into the biggest magazine publishing house in Australia, and, in many ways, I feel as though that was the start of my career.

Like the man in the first story, 17 years later I was also living out my dream. I was working at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, writing speeches for the Prime Minister.

People often think that speechwriting is a gift that you are born with but, for me, it’s been a passion I’ve pursued. I’ve read books, done courses, studied it at university.

I tell this story because we place so much emphasis on intelligence and natural ability when attitude is the most critical factor of success. Those who succeed are those who believe in themselves, those who chase opportunities regardless of obstacles.

If you want to be a better writer, I genuinely believe you can be, if you so choose to be. 

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