Thursday, April 01, 2004

What Now? 

When a client is dysfunctional, an agency can be left in a curious position. We had such a happening. A client asked me to write a speech and to interview a fellow with good insight into the audience to be addressed. My client contact said the speech was to be 15 to 20 minutes. When this fellow heard that, he asked me earnestly and often to condense the speech to no more than 10 minutes, seven if possible. He warned me that I would lose the audience if the speech was any longer. I reported this to my client contact and went about writing a shorter speech.

I worked at it between assignments and finished a 10-minute text that I sent to my colleagues for comment. They liked it and told me to send it to the client. I did so, and my contact liked it too. She sent it to her boss.

A little later, I got a one-line message from her boss. He wrote that he had not read the speech, but it had to be 15 minutes in length. Oops. No one said that it HAD to be 15 minutes in length. I was told that it should be 15 to 20 minutes then told to keep it to 10 minutes or less.

I have difficulty expanding something that has been written and edited. This speech was honed to a good length -- the wrong length. Now I have to develop five minutes of material I don't have while keeping the flow of the original. I felt like a naive apprentice sent to get a board stretcher when a timber is short.

I'm not going to tell the fellow who asked me to keep the speech short. I'll just let him fight it out with the boss who told me it has to be 15 minutes. Meanwhile, that speech stretcher must be around here somewhere.


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