9 Annual-Meeting Speeches
The college bookstore business model was profoundly disrupted by the advent of online textbooks. Nebraska Book Company (NBC) president and CEO, Steve Clemente, and the home office staff had a challenging task before them at one of the company’s annual meetings: set the groundwork for a pivot from a product company to a technology-backed managed services company, balancing confidence and hope among company leaders with a dose of reality – including a stern appeal to face the reality of the marketplace and do what was asked by leadership. Further, these annual meetings had always been designed to teach managers how to carry out the ideas they learned, so the speeches would be mini-classes in the principles company leaders identified as critical to the future of the company.
The speeches included an opening and closing by Clemente, a two-hour inspiring conversational overview with two top leaders, and seven speeches on company values by leaders of different departments.
Achieving Authenticity and Matching Personal Style
Through phone calls, teleconferences, in-person meetings and emails, I gathered information for the speeches and recorded exact words the speakers used to communicate about their areas of responsibility. I researched the college textbook industry to acquire a deeper understanding of the issues – this would add a feeling of authenticity to the ghost writing I’d do for the team.
When I could, I listened to existing recordings of the people I’d be writing speeches for to learn their personal speaking styles. Periodically, I checked in with my official speechwriting contact, Cassie Grenemeier, to test and calibrate my progress.
We started with speech outlines to make sure I was on the right track before putting too much time into any of the speeches. This helped coordinate the messages for greater impact, and also helped us plan out who would speak about what so speakers wouldn’t duplicate messages unnecessarily.
The final pieces were carefully designed to fit the personality and objective of each speaker, while reinforcing the corporate message and presenting a united front to instill confidence and inspire managers to get determined and pitch in to help the company overcome the challenges of the industry.
Links to samples: