Presidential speechwriterSpeechwriting – An Address to the United Nations

I spent 10 days polishing and streamlining the Prime Minister’s speech to the United Nations in 2003 and working on the delivery.

On his return to Sri Lanka, The Prime Minister took over 8 hours to complete the 30 km drive from Bandaranaike International Airport to the capital Colombo due to the crowds who had come out to greet him.

According to www.globalsecurity.org:

“Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has returned to a hero’s welcome in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo. Tens of thousands lined the streets outside the airport to celebrate the return of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Swarmed by officials and supporters at the airport…”

Speechwriting is always reasonably high pressure because it is often forgotten about by the person giving the speech until very late in the day and then they panic and pass the pressure on to the person selected to write the speech. This man was different. He understands the need for good speechwriting and for an external speechwriter and gave me personal time as his speechwriter to ‘get into his head’ so that I was able to do my job of speechwriting for him effectively.

Because we had never met, he gave me full access to most of his meetings in the 10 days we were in New York together. This helped me understand his way of speaking and his preferred vocabulary.

He also understood that having a speechwriter who ‘gets it’ is still not enough. He allocated time to practice his speech with me. It was always late at night in his corner suite after all his meetings were finished but it was valuable time that was essential for the success of his speech.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Peter for a few years now, initially as a friend, then as an exceptional boss and again now as a friend, mentor and role model. I love Peter’s infectious enthusiasm for any project or problem, he’s always ready to put all his energy and stamina into getting something sorted and the job done. In a professional capacity he brings a hell of a lot to any table, he’s top of his field and really does get results. As of yet, he’s one of the most influential, professional and awe-inspiring guy I have had the pleasure to come across. If I hadn’t met Peter, followed his advice (of sorts) and listened to his self taught wisdom, I wouldn’t be where I am today. – Thanks boss!”

Liam Atkins

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