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.
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.
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