Lyman began his presentation by giving his background and explaining how he got to the position he is in. He started as an intern with minimal responsibilities and worked his way to chief speechwriter. Lyman discussed the daily responsibilities of a speechwriter, as well as the necessity for caution so as not to offend people. He added that it is a worthwhile career.
“There are some things to speechwriting that aren’t so fun, but a lot of it is very meaningful and enjoyable,” Lyman said.
He then suggested helpful books, newspapers, TV shows and movies for anyone interested in speechwriting to look into, and commented on the importance of strong writing skills.
“One thing that I didn’t realize before I graduated college, was how truly marketable being a strong writer is,” Lyman said. “There aren’t many strong writers in this world, and if you can fill a niche for whatever organization you’re working for and demonstrate your writing abilities … that is a very marketable skill.”
Lyman suggested doing some light research on anyone with a job a student might be interested in to see how that person got into that position. He also discussed different ways of becoming a speechwriter, such as interning, volunteering for a campaign or being a journalist.
“I’m a case in point: if you work really hard and find the right people and really develop your craft you can rise pretty quickly,” he said.
Students had the opportunity to ask questions when Lyman finished his presentation. One student asked about whether or not Lyman gets any public recognition for his work.
“If you want to be a speechwriter, you have to be comfortable with anonymity,” Lyman said.
Another student asked if it’s necessary for a speechwriter to align politically with the person he or she is writing for.
“I find that there does have to be a significant amount of overlap between what I believe and what my boss believes,” he said. “I’ve been in situations before where I’ve declined speechwriting, because I knew I would have to write things I just didn’t believe in and it’s hard to justify that.”
Amber DeSormeau, a gradute fellow and intern at the SUU Speech and Presentation Center, said the director of the Center, Sage Platt, invited Lyman to SUU and it was a good chance for students to learn from someone closer to their age.
“This was a great opportunity for (students) to connect what they’re learning in the classroom with a career,” she said. “Being able to have someone who’s closer to their age and closer to understanding their experience, where there are right now and where they’re looking to go is great for them.”
Lyman said he thought it would be beneficial for both Senator Hatch’s office and students at SUU to discuss the possibilities of speechwriting.
“Our office has a done a lot with the school in the past and we’ve had great interns from SUU,” he said. “So we thought it would be a great opportunity to meet with more students who have an interest in speechwriting and give them a sense of what the opportunities are like in the field.”