I became a writer partially because I’m more comfortable communicating through writing than I am communicating with people verbally. I don’t feel uncomfortable or threatened in small groups, but put me in a room full of people, front and center, and the sweat begins to flow (if the alcohol isn’t). I stutter, I can’t focus, I “um” and “er,” my voice cracks, and I ramble. I despise public speaking, I hate giving presentations, and I pretty much loathe people that talk a lot. If this sounds familiar, these are signs that you might be a writer.
In addition to all the articles, case studies, press releases, and brochures that I compose, I also happen to be the ad writer at work. I team with the graphics department to design compelling, informative, and (ahem) awe-inspiring print ads. The work is a far cry from that done at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, although it has its moments. I don’t get to take power naps, pour mid-day cocktails, and harass the females in the office like Don Draper and company, but I never pass up the opportunity to belittle or criticize my fellow co-workers in front of one another.
Here’s the irony of this writing gig: Earlier this year I was asked to present at my company’s Global Marketing Summit on the topic of “Creating an Advertising Campaign.” It was determined that because I’m the guy that pounds out the ad copy using a keyboard and Microsoft Word, I must be the guy that’s qualified to talk about it, using my voice and a PowerPoint presentation. At first, when I was putting together the PowerPoint, it seemed easy enough. Then it came time to start rehearsing the presentation, and that’s when I remembered why I’m a writer.
There’s no Spelling or Grammar Check when you’re speaking in front of a live audience. There’s no delete or backspace button. It’s in real time and when you trip over your words and draw a blank in the middle of a sentence, it’s a real horrifying, embarrassing, and humbling experience. I’m much more qualified to write about how to create an advertising campaign, but unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the assignment.
So, I went through with it. And, having to present in front of an audience has given me an even greater appreciation for the profession of writing. Now if only everyone else appreciated it too…