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Say you wanted to break into speechwriting. How would you go about it?

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In a recent post, I passed on a question I got from a communication guy who had confidence but no clips, and who wondered: "Is there a way I can break into or gently ease up to writing speeeches for others?"

I've had this question posed to me a lot, and I'm always dissatisfied with my own answer. So far, the answers I've gotten corroborated it.

New York-based freelancer Mike Folie gave the most detailed advice:

It's a difficult question to answer because there is no direct route and I stumbled into it (as I suspect most of us did). What I do suggest to aspiring speechwriters is that they volunteer to write a speech or three (no more) for senior people at the local chapters of nationally known non-profits (e.g., Big Brother/Big Sister, American Cancer Society, etc.). They often need well-written speeches but lack the budget to hire anyone. Local elected officials are also a good bet for this strategy (especially in this time of tight city budgets). It's a way to get on the board and build up your resume with the names of nationally recognized organizations. And it provides samples you can use in looking for paying work. It's hard to market yourself as anything if you have absolutely no track record; this can give you at least the beginnings of one. Good luck to the dude.

Good luck to the dude indeed. Anyone else who would like to chime in might do so: vseditor@mcmurry.com.