Business of the week: The Highgate speech-writing firm whose work you've probably heard without realising
PUBLISHED: 17:01 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:41 23 October 2019
Lawrence Bernstein was in his late 30s and getting sick of his City banking job when one of his friends suggested he pursue speech-writing full time.
Lots of friends were getting married, which meant lots of other friends were soon-to-be best men, and plenty were already asking for his help.
Fast forward 10 years, and Lawrence's Great Speech Writing Company in Archway Road counts corporate professionals, bereaved families and even African heads of state among its list of customers.
"There's been some weird stories over the years," Lawrence told the Gazette.
"The funniest one was probably when this guy from Australia - about to board a plane to Kenya - asked if we could prep his mother's eulogy for him.
"We asked him how long we had until the funeral. His response was: 'Ah, don't worry mate - she's not dead yet, I just want to be prepared!'"
Another one was when a bride, groom, best man and maid of honour all asked for speechwriting help for the same wedding.
Lawrence said: "We knew they'd all had their speeches written by us, but none of them did.
"I would go into further details, but I've signed NDAs [non-disclosure agreements]."
Eliza Harris, the company's relationship manager, works to "match up" writers with clients.
Eliza, who used to work at Gymboree Play & Music in Highbury New Park, said: "Matching up people from the same religions, regions and backgrounds is important, because they're the people who will understand you most.
"Since joining the company back in May, I've been astonished at the response I get when discussing what I do at parties.
"People are shocked to hear that brides, grooms and best men can - and want to - have their speeches written for them.
"Of the many who get in touch each week, some are incredibly secretive and act as though having their special speech written is like having an affair.
"Making a speech at a wedding seems to be really daunting and more often than not, people call lamenting about a terrible speech they had to sit through at a previous wedding and beg us to help them not emulate that."
Have you used a professional speech-writing firm? Contact the Gazette on 020 7433 0104 or email email@example.com.