Bumped from the calendar...again? No worries, you can still succeed

“Sorry, I'll have to cancel our meeting today. Maybe I can clear a few minutes tomorrow.” Getting access to a speaker is the bane of many a speech and presentation writer’s existence. Senior managers and leaders are busy people with lots of demands on their time. Sadly that situation often leaves scribes scratching dates off the calendar. It’s no wonder then that the question I’m asked most often is: how can you write for someone when you never get to meet with them?

Writing with little or no access to the speaker is a challenge. But, it’s far from impossible. And, it doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. You can learn a lot about a speaker and do good work for them without ever exchanging a word. All it takes is some imagination and a bit of detective work.

Focus on the following 3 Ps and you’ll increase your chances of capturing the essence of an elusive speaker.

  • Know your speaker’s priorities. Understand the organization, its mission and its goals. What is the strategic plan or thinking that serves as the foundation for decision-making? You should know the pillars of your business and the touchstone documents that describe them as well as your speaker does.

  • Get a sense of the speaker’s personality. Talk to people who work closely with the speaker and gather some key information. What’s her podium style? Does she like to be scripted or prefer to speak from bullet points? What makes him laugh? What does he read and how does he spend his free time? It may cost you a latté or two, but your sleuthing will be worthwhile if it yields information that makes your job easier.

  • Finally, be aware of the speaker's preoccupations. In other words, what issues are taking up a lot of time and energy? Is he or she especially proud of a recent achievement, or focused on spearheading an important project? And what events are coming up that are cause for excitement or concern?