“So, how’s the speechwriting going, Lloyd?”

I get that a lot. A lot of my friends from politics still think of me as “the speechwriter.” It must be how William Shatner feels — no one talks to him about TJ Hooker, or Boston Legal or Rescue 911 or his albums or books — everyone thinks of him as Captain Kirk. It doesn’t matter what else he accomplishes in life, he’s always going to be the “to boldly go” guy. I feel for him.

At the same time, it’s a darn good thing I’m not (just) a speechwriter right now. Because, frankly, there aren’t a lot of speeches being delivered to live, in-person audiences during COVID. And — even more frankly — that’s the way it should be! When I see unmasked political rallies on TV, I get a pang of anxiety thinking about the COVID cases that will spike a few weeks later.

It’s not safe to give speeches in packed stadiums right now — and no politician or public figure who truly cares about people should be asking us to risk our lives like that.  Our LRC team are political animals and we love writing speeches — but we would never advise anyone to deliver them live, right now.

But does that mean the speeches are a thing of the past?

Not at all. In fact, we tell leaders this is exactly the wrong time to skip the script.

That’s because there has never been a bigger, more captive, more receptive audience than there is, right now.  Consider the numbers: in December of 2019, Zoom had an average of 10 million daily participants in calls. By April 2020, that number was up to over 300 million — that’s the entire global audience of the BBC on just one video conferencing platform, every day.

While most of that activity is limited to smaller meetings of 10 people or less, as COVID drags on, more full-blown conferences and trade shows are being hosted digitally. In fact many businesses and organizations intend to keep hosting their annual conferences virtually — not only to save time and money, but because “attendance” is proving to be much larger for virtual conferences than in-person. After all — there’s no need for catering, no limit to the room size and no need to stay overnight.

And it’s not just conferences. Our team has also helped some of our tech-savvy clients script investor pitches, plan company town halls, write video greetings, and script a variety of other events — because leaders realize two things:

First, the audience is ready to listen. Video conferences are the new-normal, and people are eager and willing to participate in public events.

Second, the stakes are high. You would never speak to a Hilton Hotel conference room of 1000 people unprepared. Why on earth would you speak to 3000 people on a Zoom conference call — that is being recorded for posterity — without a script?

Like I say — a lot of our clients already get this. They’re investing just as much time and care preparing and delivering remarks from their kitchen table as they would from behind a podium. In some cases, even more so.

So — no — we’re not doing a lot of speechwriting these days.

But we are doing an awful lot of Zoomwriting.