Storytelling. Authority. Authenticity.
It seems these have passed for “trends” in speechwriting and executive communication for almost as long as ethos, pathos and logos.
But populism, post-truthism and #metoo are turning yesterday’s best practices into today’s borderline bromides.
Even in our relatively timeless trade, it’s time look askance at our sacred cows and try some new techniques.
At the 2019 World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association, you will be challenged, by people within and without our profession:
This conference will give you new ideas, refine your approach and teach you how to rethink time-tested techniques for a changing public conversation.
Hosted by the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, sponsored by Gotham Ghostwriters, convened by the PSA and emceed by Vital Speeches of the Day editor and publisher David Murray, the annual World Conference is the place where speechwriters and executive communication professionals gather annually to exchange ideas, solve problems and build relationships.
And push one another to get better.
MONDAY, OCT. 21
8:30-5:00 • Pre-Conference Workshops: Choose One, Two, or All Three
Workshop A (8:30-11:00): Five Steps to Prep: Crisis Communication Planning for Executive Communication Pros. Crisis PR guru Gerard Braud teaches you how to prepare yourself and your leaders on a sunny day for what might happen on your darkest day.
Workshop B (11:30-2:00): Open Your Eyes: Data Visualization for Speechwriters. A guide for word nerds, to using visual techniques to transform the numbers your speakers love into drama your audiences will appreciate. With visual rhetoric expert Dr. Vincent Rhodes.
Workshop C (2:30-5:00) Storytelling: Next. Getting stories out of a leader is like squeezing water from a stone. Legendary story authority Ann Wylie will teach you tactics you’ve never tried to help your clients use narrative to communicate.
TUESDAY, OCT. 22
8:00-9:00 • Registration and Welcome Breakfast
9:00-9:15 • Opening Remarks
9:15-10:15 • How Women Own the Room: The Difference Gender Makes to a Speech—and to Speechwriting
Journalist, writer and comedian Viv Groskop will deliver an entertaining and enlightening keynote address drawn from her new book, How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking. For centuries, women had very few opportunities to make an impact with their speaking. In fact, the Roman definition of great oratory was about “virtue” which is synonymous with “manliness” and involved the deliberate exclusion of women from public speaking. In the last century, though—and especially in the last two decades—we’ve seen the emergence of many great women speakers: The Top 10 TED Talks at any one time is frequently dominated by women. Michelle Obama’s emergence as one of the best speakers in the world has had a significant galvanizing effect. Why are women's speeches going viral? And who are the great, defining women speakers we should all—speechwriters and speakers—aim to emulate?
10:15-11:00 • Candid Roundtable Conversation—How Did We Get Here, and Where Are We Headed?
In these friendly confines, previous World Conference participants and first-timers candidly share with each other how they got into this strange profession—and what they plan to do now that they’re here.
11:00-12:00 • Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Measurement—in Our Business? Yes.
Most speechwriters would say that measuring the effectiveness of leadership communication is not only impossible, but inadvisable. The audience stood and clapped: What more do you need to know? What more do you want to know? That attitude frustrated Noah Zandan, who founded Quantified Communications in order to compile and analyze vast amounts of data about tens of thousands of presentations in order to “make it possible to accurately measure how well someone communicates.” That interests Zandan’s client Dean Foust, who wants to quantify the contribution of his ambitious work as executive communication director at UPS. Foust wants to know nothing short of what difference UPS leadership communications is making in the company’s global reputation. Can communications really be counted? Zandan and Foust will make the case, and field your questions.
12:00-12:45 • Lunch & Conversation with Speechwriters from Your Industry
Speechwriters are your tribe, but your truest colleagues—the ones who can help you the most—are those who work in your industry or sector. You’ll make those crucial connections at this organized luncheon session.
12:45-1:15 • Speechwriter Crowdsource! Share Your Own Tips & Tactics
PSA conference-goers are not called “attendees,” but participants. This popular session is one of the reasons. In this fun, fast-paced idea-jam, you’ll have a chance to step up to the microphone and share your own hard-earned tricks of the speechwriting and leadership communication trade, so your colleagues don’t have to learn them the hard way.
1:15-1:30 • Break
1:30-4:00 • Breakout Sessions, for Your Craft & Career: Six Sessions in Two Tracks
Craft Track: Do You Know Monroe? One Simple Structure that Works for Every Speech
Co-authors of the new edition of the Political Speechwriter’s Companion Robert Lehrman and Eric Schnure are astonished that so few veteran speechwriters know about a step-by-step speech structure called Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. The structure is easy to learn, simple to follow—and it can produce rhetorically sophisticated, psychologically satisfying speeches that move people to action. Learn it from the masters, and use it for the rest of your career.
Career Track: LinkedIn, for Leadership Communication (Are You Sure You’re Using It Right?)
With over 600 million members globally, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. In this session, you’ll learn how to help your executives make the most of the platform to build their personal brand, further their organizations and reach stakeholder audiences. LinkedIn’s no-nonsense Advocacy and Government account exec Erica Pyatt will walk you through the LinkedIn ecosystem and teach you how to maximize organic reach, and how to use paid services to amplify the message.
Craft Track: Color the Audience Fascinated with These Writing and Editing Techniques
Corporate writing guru Ann Wylie will show even the most seasoned pro how to boost comprehension and retention—and even move people to act—with juicy details. How? By “writing like a roller coaster” to avoid losing them in the middle. By sprinkling “gold coins” throughout the speech to keep listeners riveted. And by adding irresistible concrete details to inject pungent life into the most tedious topics. You’ll learn to edit a speech from blah into brilliant.
Career Track: Drop the high-level talk, regain leadership credibility, with the “ground speech”!
In the age of social networks, when everyone and anyone can share an opinion on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp, can leaders still be heard over the crowd? It’s a crucial question, because just as the legitimacy of authority and credentials are questioned and even suspected—nothing is more needed than real knowledge and experience. That’s why leaders must learn how to talk differently and master a new language—and also a new attitude. This is what we call the “ground speech,” and it’s all about experience, proximity and dialogue. Amélie Blanckaert, CEO of the French speechwriting agency Coup de plume and former speechwriter of Carlos Ghosn, will teach us what it is and how to write it.
Craft Track: Get to the Point—How to Identify, Sharpen, and Champion Your Most Important Ideas
Many people give speeches, but few make meaningful, memorable points. Why? Because most communicators don’t even know what a point is—or how sharp to make it. That’s the point of this unique presentation, where public speaking trainer and ASPCA Senior Director of Strategic and Executive Communications Joel Schwartzberg will offer useful tips and exercises to help speechwriters and their clients stop talking and explaining—and begin to identify, hone, and effectively sell a point through strategic storytelling techniques, volume variation, pauses and “Power Periods.”
Career Track: Speech as Provocation—How to Write a Speech that Sparks a Conversation
Should speakers deliberately set out to provoke their audiences? How do you persuade a speaker that provocation is a good tactic? And what happens after a speech makes a splash? Journalist-turned-speechwriter Lech Mintowt-Czyz will make the case for kicking snakes, pushing bears and poking at hornets’ nests—which he has been doing, through speeches, for the CEO of Shell. He’ll lift the lid on how a conservative corporate giant reacts when the CEO and his speechwriter team up to “move fast and break things.” You’ll come away with a case study in corporate comms that can help you convince your speaker to say something—anything!—interesting.
4:00-4:15 • Break
4:15-5:15 • Blasphemy, Best Practice or Both? If You Want to Make Change, Stop Telling Stories and Start Making Scenes
From the podium or the pulpit, storytelling is yesterday’s strategy. One of the world’s leading scholars and teachers of homiletics—the art of writing and preaching sermons—Alyce McKenzie will demonstrate why scenes, rather than stories, are the essential unit of modern oral communication. She’ll show how to invite listeners into scenes—and, once they are there, to point them toward the larger message. You’ll learn how to gather listeners in a common place, give them a specific understanding of the message, and send them out into the scenes they'll play out in their lives—equipped to act out their parts in ways that are kinder, more just, and more courageous.
5:30-7:00 • Cone-of-Silence Cocktails (This Year, with Music!) … sponsored by the Cicero Speechwriting Awards
Members of the Discretion Profession will swap stories and celebrate one another’s success as we toast the winners of the 2019 Cicero Speechwriting Awards—and literally sing their praises, with live entertainment provided by the cabaret-singer and professional speechwriter Karen Gross.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 23
8:30-9:00 • Gather for Breakfast
9:00-10:15 • State of the Profession and Issue Panel: Speechwriters Seeking More
“What Do they Want from Us?” A sneak peak at results of a different PSA survey. This year, we asked chief communication officers, VPs and directors how they see executive communications and speechwriting evolving as a part of the organizational strategy—and how they want it to evolve in the future.
Around the World in Rhetoric: PSA executive director David Murray shares what he has learned during a globetrotting year visiting speechwriters in Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean and Africa, and a panel of other speechwriters from outside North America give us a snapshot of speechwriting developments around the world.
Do you know about the Keynote Women Speech Bank? You will, after its founder Dana Rubin, tells us about the new initiative that will showcase women speakers across time and around the world, from antiquity to the present. She’ll share its purpose, and tell you how you can contribute.
PSA member Jack Dougherty has a name for speechwriters—and, some days, the speechwriter in the mirror—whose measure of success is, “The boss is happy.” He’ll share it this morning.
… and as always, we make time for a freewheeling all-conference conversation about where speechwriting is headed—and what speechwriters can do to steer it.
10:15-11:00 • Mentorship Mixer: Seasoned Speechwriters Advise Aspiring Scribes
There are no naive questions when the aspiring speechwriters who comprise the Georgetown Speechwriting Club (and a cohort of similarly rhetoric-roused undergrads from Howard University) mingle with professional speechwriters, who get a rare and happy chance to share what they wish they’d known from the start.
11:00-11:15 • Break
11:15-12:00 • The Speechwriter’s Stump Speech: “What (Only) a Speech Can Do”
For almost all of the first 50,000 years of recorded human history, a speech was the most efficient communication method known to humankind: “Gather everyone together, I’ve got something I need to say.” Since the Gutenberg Press, and radio, and television, and Internet and now YouTube—the speech has become just about the most inefficient communication method imaginable. Yet we still gather to listen to a speech. Why, on earth? For only one remaining reason, argues David Murray, publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association. He’ll reveal it—and demonstrate it—in a speech he has delivered around the world this year—and plans to deliver many more times, on behalf of speechwriters everywhere. Listen to it critically: And if it resonates personally, borrow from it liberally!
12:00 • Closing Remarks
Alyce M. McKenzie is the Director of the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at Southern Methodist University, and the Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. A sought after speaker and a prolific author, her latest book is Making a Scene in the Pulpit: Vivid Preaching for Visual Listeners.
Amélie Blanckaert started writing speeches in childhood, like others drink milk. After studying literature and business in Ecole Normale Supérieure and HEC Business school, she started teaching rhetoric in Trinity College (Cambridge), at La Sorbonne (Paris) and at HEC. She has taught eloquence and debate since 2008 at Sciences Po. In 2006, she founded the agency of speechwriters for CEO Coup de plume. She is proud to count among its clients business leaders of international companies such as Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, Rothschild, Engie, Axa, Hermès, L’Oréal, and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield among others. Amélie Blanckaert is also reservist Colonel in the French air force.
Ann Wylie runs a company called Wylie Communications Inc. She works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. Ann is the author of more than a dozen learning tools that help people improve their communication skills, including RevUpReadership.com, a toolbox for writers. Her manual Planning Powerful Publications, published by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), has been called “the bible” of publication planning.
Former Chief Speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, Bob Lehrman is an award-winning teacher and novelist, and speechwriter for dozens of national figures. Lehrman writes often on politics, teaches at Johns Hopkins University. With collaborator Eric Schnure, Lehrman wrote the second edition of his popular book, The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, out in its second edition this fall.
Dana Rubin helps organizations achieve their goals through targeted thought leadership campaigns, coaching, speaking, and training. She has extensive experience working within the private, public and nonprofit sectors, and a passion for helping leaders distinguish themselves and shape public opinion through the tools of persuasion and influence. Her clients come from the world of business, the public sector, and the arts. Dana earned degrees with honors from Yale and the University of Texas. In 2004 she founded the Leadership Communications Roundtable. To connect with her on LinkedIn, go here. For more on how she helps organizations attract, retain and develop their women leaders, see TheMouthyWoman.
David Murray is editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine and the executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association. An award-winning journalist and a New York Times best-selling author, Murray writes and speaks widely on communication issues. He lives with his wife and daughter, in Chicago.
Dean Foust serves as director of executive communications for UPS, where he oversees speechwriting and other thought leadership initiatives. From 2009 to 2012, he worked as president of Inspirent LLC, providing thought leadership consulting and content to Fortune 100 clients. From 1987 to 2009, Foust worked as an award-winning writer, editor and bureau chief for BusinessWeek magazine in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.
Eric Schnure is an independent leadership communication strategist who most recently served as Director of Executive Communications at GE. A sought-after humor writer in Washington, Schnure began his communications career in the White House in 1993 as a speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore and later served in senior communications roles at the United States Department of Housing and at NASA. He teaches speechwriting at Johns Hopkins University. He is co-author of The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, out in its second edition this fall.
Erica Pyatt is part of LinkedIn’s Advocacy and Government team where she focuses on helping associations and governments more effectively leverage LinkedIn to support their marketing and communications goals. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Erica worked for a DC-based tech startup managing the company’s most strategic accounts, as well as on the agency and publisher side in working on marketing campaigns with associations, corporate government relations teams and political campaigns. In addition, Erica worked for Governor Mark Dayton when he was in the Senate and Congressman Martin Sabo, both from her home state of Minnesota. A graduate of The George Washington University, Erica lives with her family in Arlington, VA. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ericapyatt
Crisis communications expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC, has helped organizations on five continents communicate more effectively when “it” hits the fan. He began his career as a frontline television journalist, with reports seen on CNN, NBC, CBS, HLN, and The Weather Channel. After hearing people say dumb things on camera every day for 15 years, in 1994 he left the news business to become a global one-man operation dedicated to effective crisis communications.
Currently Senior Director of Strategic and Executive Communications for the ASPCA, Joel Schwartzberg has been teaching presentation techniques to clients including American Express, Blue Apron, and the Brennan Center for Justice since 2006. Joel’s award-winning book Get to the Point! Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter was released in 2017 and his articles on effective point-making appear in Fast Company, Toastmaster Magazine, and The Huffington Post. A frequent conference presenter, Joel is a former National Champion and State Champion competitive public speaker who coached public speaking teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Seton Hall University. He was inducted into the National Forensic Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 2013, Karen Gross launched Karen Gross Enterprises, LLC, to connect—and help others connect—with audiences through words, songs, and speeches. She collaborates with some of the nation’s most influential, pioneering leaders and organizations, crafting messages that resonate and get results. Before starting her own company, she spent over a decade as a communications manager, magazine and newspaper editor, reporter, and publicist. Simultaneously, she was performing and studying voice, cabaret, and comedy in New York City and Philadelphia. Karen has performed at prestigious venues including Lincoln Center in New York City; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Highland Farm, the longtime home of Oscar Hammerstein II; and the Sellersville Theater, as a special guest for legendary comedian Robert Klein. She’s been singing since she can remember and performing professionally since graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University.
Lech Mintowt-Czyz spent more than 20 years working as a journalist before he became a speechwriter. Always a hard news journalist, he worked as a reporter on British newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard. He moved on to spend nine years as a news editor on The Times (of London). Three years ago, he became a speechwriter for Shell and he now writes for the CEO. He lives near London.
Noah Zandan is the CEO and co-founder of Quantified Communications, a pioneer in applying behavioral science to help people strengthen the way they communicate. Under Noah’s leadership, Quantified Communications has become the leading firm in applying innovative analytics, technology and AI to help people measure and strengthen their impact and influence. Quantified Communications works globally with leaders of corporations, government organizations, hundreds of TED speakers, higher-ed institutions and nonprofits. Noah’s work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, Economist and Fortune. He regularly lectures at Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Kellogg Graduate School of management on the interaction between leadership communication and technology.
Vincent Rhodes, PhD, APR, serves as Assistant Vice President and Chief Communications & Marketing Officer for Eastern Virginia Medical School. In this capacity, he oversees public and media relations, executive communications, content marketing, crisis communications, creative services and digital media. Previously, Rhodes served as Communications Manager and Clerk of the School Board for Norfolk Public Schools, the largest urban school system in Virginia and one of the top 150 largest school systems in the country.
Viv Groskop is a writer, stand-up comedian, broadcaster and executive performance coach. She is the author of How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking. She also hosts the Top 10 iTunes podcast of the same name which features women like Nigella Lawson and Professor Mary Beard talking about their experiences on stage and screen, their tips and tricks and how they overcome their insecurities. In the corporate world she is a sought-after keynote speaker and coach who specializes in female leadership and the overturning of limiting beliefs. She is a presenter on BBC Radio 4 and appears regularly on the BBC1 late night politics show This Week.
Located at the intersection of business, government, and international relations, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business develops principled leaders with a global mindset to be in service to business and society. Guided by that purpose, we are a business school that produces knowledge and educates leaders to address the most significant challenges and opportunities facing business and society today.
Since its founding a decade ago, Gotham Ghostwriters has been a unifying force in speechwriting and leadership communications. Through its important work in helping organizations in need of speechwriting and ghostwriting find the most capable professional rhetoricians in the world, GG and its founder Dan Gerstein have become essential connectors of a once-ephemeral business.
Convened by Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, the Professional Speechwriters Association offers training, industry insight, recognition, connection and purchasing power for speechwriters and leadership communication professionals.
Georgetown's McDonough School of Business
Rafik B. Hariri Building
37th and O St., N.W.
The Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center is adjacent to the conference. To register under the room block, please click here to book online or call 1-888-902-1606 or (202) 687-3200 and reference the Professional Speechwriters Association. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of September 20, 2019, or once the discounted room block is sold out.
The Georgetown Inn is a historic boutique hotel a short walk from our meeting space on campus. To make a reservation under the room block, please call (202) 465-5335 and reference the Professional Speechwriters group. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of September 20, 2019, or once the discounted room block is sold out.
If you find the hotels listed above can no longer accommodate the nights you need, Georgetown University recommends several other options near campus: http://www.georgetown.edu/area-hotels-and-visitor-housing
From Reagan National Airport, Georgetown’s campus is conveniently reached by taxicab, and economically reached by taking the Blue Line (towards Largo Town Center) to the Rosslyn Metro Station and taking the free Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle to campus.
For local attendees, parking is located on campus in the Leavey Center garage. Parking is $25.00/per day.
For more detailed information on public transportation, taxi service, driving directions and on-campus parking, please click here.