Monday, January 16, 2012

"How do I help a dying friend with a speech about her life and illness?"

Readers, today we need your help for a fellow reader and speaker coach who has written to me with a speech challenge unlike any she has faced before. Here is what she wrote:
I have been given a tough assignment. A good friend is terminally ill. She's smart, gentle, warm and quiet. She's not a speaker, and she's the wisest and kindest person I know. She's still up and about but may not be for long. She has asked me to help her with a speech for a big fundraiser. I've done tough things before,  and if she weren't my friend I could laugh. Black humour, irreverence...they are all tools to help make an unbearable subject bearable. But my sadness and our attachment are blocking my ability to think clearly about how to help her prepare - let alone write the script. I'll find a way to ensure my feelings don't overshadow our prep for this gig  - I want it to be her triumph. If you or anyone else have any tips or experience to help me navigate this particularly tricky professional path, I'd be most grateful.
Have you had to help a friend in this situation, or given this kind of speech yourself? What advice, tips or experiences do you have that will help this fellow reader coach her friend and write the speech of a lifetime? Can you point us to examples of other speakers facing the same situation? Please share your ideas and help in the comments.

Looking for great speeches by women? Try The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, with a wide variety of women speakers, types of speeches and topics to inspire your next speech. Each one comes with lessons for speakers, plus video or audio and a transcript, where available.