The hard cold world of business had effectively humanized itself by leveraging symbolism related to the ordinary lives of people. In America, a universal symbol was the dream of home ownership. Added on were the right to a college education for one's children, safe communities and a happy retirement.
That was then. With the ongoing fragmentation of social values, financial objectives and institutional trust, no symbol remains universal. For example, alluding to home ownership in a speech might trigger puzzled looks or even pained expressions. Having been through so many rounds of special assessments, even the notion of owning a condo doesn't sit well with me.
The speechwriter or ghostwriter has to research what evokes positive emotion in that particular audience or target markets. That takes more than simply interviewing those in the loop. If the talk is being delivered in a subsidized senior citizen development in an urban area which is nearby, walk around those streets, talk to the people and stop for coffee. Soon enough what we uncover is fear. Lots of it. The categories range from inflation eating into fixed income to the onset of dementia. Yes, introduce the topic of fear itself and propose solutions for reducing it.
But the fear meme will only be effective if it's a perfect fit for the speaker. She may be the Chief Financial Officer, uncomfortable with topics embedded with emotion. Therefore, the talk would have to be focused on the math senior citizens have to deal with daily and in the longer term.
The role of business speechwriter and ghostwriter is more difficult in 2014. There is such diversity in symbols and in kinds of executives. We can't assume anything.