Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis
susandennis

So, what DID you do?

I get this question a lot. When people find out I'm retired, their next question is, So what did you did before you retired? I had two different careers. The last one was web production. The tools were nearly any kind of computer with internet access.

A lot of the first part of my career was writing speeches for IBM executives. This is still a fairly viable career but not like it was.   And the tools are totally different.

In the olden days...  The speech had to be written, re-written, edited, tweaked and polished with enough time to get it printed out - on actual paper, and into the speech box in time for the executive (who am I kidding... the Guy) to practice or, worst case, give the speech live with no rehersal.

I still have one of my old speech boxes.



And, hilariously, it has the 'user manual' inside.



I spent 5 of my speech writing years working for one guy. He loved his speech box.  He was a pretty good speaker and, generally, stuck to my script (so his speeches were always Great!).  He'd be all distracted and doing a million things until I put that box in his hands and then like a light switch being flipped, he'd be laser focused and ready to go. For big speeches sometimes we used a teleprompter but he used his speechbox, too.  If he needed visuals, we usually used an overhead projector and transparencies which we called 'foils'. Those, too, had to be created, edited tweaked and finalized ahead of time.

Today, I imagine speech writers who are working on computers with no paper, no foils and changing shit seconds before the welcome applause stops.  Honestly, I'm glad I got out of the biz before then.
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