Episode 30
Brand Story Podcast

Writing for President Obama

featuring Terence Szuplat

Former President Obama Speechwriter and Founder of Global Voices Communications

Terence Szuplat, former President Obama speechwriter and founder of Global Voices Communications, talks about the relationship between speechwriting and storytelling with our president, Steve Gilman

It all started with an internship. In between doing research for professional speechwriters, Terence got the opportunity to try his hand at speechwriting under the guidance of former President Clinton’s Foreign Policy speechwriters. From there he took his talents for storytelling to other avenues as a freelance writer before making his way back to the White House, this time writing for former President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Speechwriting, just like copywriting, is a way to tell a story. In Terence’s case, he worked to tell America’s story, connecting with audiences all over the world. In this episode, Terence addresses why it’s important to choose stories over statistics and the emotional impact they have on your audience. Every person, every business has a story to tell, sometimes you just need to think beyond your product or service to find it.

About the Guest

Terence Szuplat

Former President Obama Speechwriter and Founder of Global Voices Communications

Terence is well-known for being one of former President Obama’s longest-serving speechwriters. He helped draft hundreds of speeches on global and international economics, U.S. foreign and defense policy and human rights as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Speechwriting at the National Security Council. Since leaving the White House, his personal essays and commentaries have appeared in numerous leading publications, and he currently serves as the founder of Global Voices Communications, a strategic communications and speechwriting consultancy.

Quickfire Q&A

If you hadn’t been a speechwriter, what do you think you would have done?

Like a lot of young people who come to Washington, I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I had visions of arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court, which I guess would have been another form of speechwriting and speech giving.

What’s a piece of advice you’ve been given that’s really stuck with you?

When it comes to speechwriting and communicating, and a human being standing in front of other human beings trying to connect with them on some level, it’s not the statistics, it’s the story. If you really want to move somebody you have to understand their value system, their moral foundation.

If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?

Remember this is going to be hard. It’s a different form of writing, it’s very unique and it’s unique to the person you’re writing for. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I didn’t quit.


Terence Szuplat and President Barack Obama

About The Host

Steve Gilman

As the President of Gravity Group, Steve is passionate about helping brands reach their goals through honest, creative marketing and powerful brand stories.