Feb 27, 2023 - Politics & Policy

First look: Obama speechwriter reveals tricks of the trade

Obama editing a speech in 2009. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

One of former President Obama’s speechwriters will be out with a book next year on how everyday citizens can connect with their audiences.

Driving the news: Terry Szuplat, one of Obama’s longest-serving wordsmiths, has signed a deal with HarperCollins to publish a book that he’s been noodling on for more than a year: "Well Said: Find Your Voice, Speak Your Mind, Inspire Any Audience."

Why it matters: White House speechwriters have deep insights into any president’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • They learn to write for all audiences, from passionate ideological crowds to apolitical sports gatherings, where fans just want to relive a storybook season.
  • Szuplat plans to take his insights and show any leader — large or small — how to speak to their communities or companies.

Between the lines: Speechwriters in any White House are often better versed in the policy disputes — and dirty knife fights — than the top political officials.

  • Competing factions litigate their arguments right up until a speech is loaded into the teleprompter.
  • Szuplat will mix Obama anecdotes, and the occasional behind-the-scenes story, along with practical advice.

What we’re watching: Will any of the faux speeches from the Obama era — including a fun parody of Obama’s 2010 campaign stump speech — make it into print?

Go deeper: Former Biden speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum published a book last year called "Undelivered" that explored history's "what ifs."

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