You’ve had tough assignments before. But nothing like this.
Now you’re tasked—with little or no training—to write speeches for someone whose pay grade is well above yours. To represent DoD to all kinds of audiences. To capture the voice, thoughts, and intonation of a boss who, just months ago, you’d seen only from afar.
Above all, you don’t want to let down millions of men and women in uniform. They watch DoD’s leaders from tents, ships, missile silos, and a thousand other places around the world. They look to them—and therefore to you—for information and inspiration. What you write matters. And you know it.
Fortunately, there’s now training to help you.
We invite you to attend Military Speechwriting Training (19-20 November 2019) at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Convened by the Professional Speechwriters Association, it’ll be taught by two seasoned, professional speechwriters—both retired military—who have written at the highest levels of DoD. Joining them will be the executive director of the PSA, who lives and breathes speechwriting every day.
Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, civil servants, and others writing for military leaders will find value and benefit from this training.
What You’ll Learn
At the end of the course, you’ll walk away with the know-how to become a speechwriting machine. Your new tool box will include:
Prepare yourself for 1.5 days of instruction that combines expert lectures, practical discussions and short writing exercises designed to cover every aspect of military speechwriting.
0830-0900 – Registration
0900-0930 – Welcome to Military Speechwriting Training
Dr. Rosemary King, Sue Ross, and David Murray will kick off what will be the most substantive, functional training on speechwriting you’ve ever had.
0930-1100 – Session 1: Hitting the Target
Grab some coffee and hang on as we dive into the three fundamental concepts you must explore before putting your fingers to the keyboard. They include analyzing audience demographics, identifying the purpose of the remarks, and creating key messages that will stick long after your speaker has left the podium. We’ll also discuss that ever-present challenge: connecting your strategic communication goals to each event.
1100-1115 – Break
1115-1215 – Lunch Session: This Is What Leadership Communication Sounds Like
There are so many more efficient ways for leaders to communicate. Why in the world are they still giving old-fashioned speeches? That’s a good question—and unless you know the answer, you won’t write effective speeches. Through an entertaining, inspiring and instructive collection of speech clips from the past and present—military and otherwise—Professional Speechwriters Association executive director David Murray will not only explain but also demonstrate the purpose of modern speechwriting—and thus, the strategy behind every speech you write.
1215-1230 – Break
1230-1400 – Session 3: Beginning, Middle, & End
In this session, you'll learn the key components of every intro, body, and conclusion as well as what each must accomplish. In addition, we’ll cover Monroe's Motivated Sequence, a structure we’ve used time and again with the SecDef, whether he was speaking for 50 minutes or just 5. We’ll also talk about how to marshal a cogent argument with ample evidence, so you can convince even the skeptics in the audience.
1400-1500 – Session 4: Storytelling
We love this session and think you will too. You’ll get the science behind storytelling (that is, why stories are so memorable) and the elements needed to make even a short anecdote compelling. We’ll also discuss the boss who isn’t a natural storyteller … and what you can do about it.
1500-1600 – Open Discussion
We’ll wrap up by looking back on the day to hear your big take-aways and your remaining needs. We’ll discuss what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past, including obstacles unique to us as military speechwriters.
0830-0900 – Session 5: Making the Boss Look Good
Speechwriters need to be more than good communicators. We’ll kick off the day identifying the many roles we must play—from diligent staffer and fact-checker to trusted advisor and thought leader. This session will also address a host of practical tips. Among them, how to make the most of your time when that 30-minute meeting about the BIG speech shrinks to 3 minutes!
0900-1000 – Session 6: Mistakes We Made (And How to Avoid Them)
Collectively, we have a total of 26 years as professional speechwriters, including a decade as military speechwriters. We’ll share lessons we learned the hard way (no need for you to suffer as well). This not-to-miss session will be filled with real stories, some hilarious, some still a little painful, that made us in the end better speechwriters and staff officers.
1000-1015 – Break
1015-1130 – Session 7: Best Practices for Ghostwriters: Beyond Speechwriting
If you can conceive, structure, and write effective speeches, you can do anything in leadership communication. Still, there are special tricks and tips for other ghostwriting formats. In this session, we'll share what we know, and answer any questions you have.
1130-1200 – Closing Remarks and Final Q&A
We adjourn the day with an opportunity for you to turn the tables and ask the faculty any question that’s on your mind before the Professional Speechwriters Association issues you a certificate of completion and list of contact information of your new communication colleagues. You'll depart a more confident speechwriter and a better-connected communicator.
Rosemary King, PhD, is a 1988 Air Force Academy graduate and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. She served in the Pentagon as speechwriter for Defense Secretary Robert Gates and two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers and General Peter Pace. She has a master’s degree from Harvard and a doctorate from Arizona State University, both in English. Rose currently runs her own business as a speechwriter and speech coach with clients from the nonprofit world, business community, and government. Rose lives in Portland, Oregon.
Sue Ross is a 1983 Air Force Academy graduate, retired Air Force colonel, and pilot with over 3,000 flying hours in four different aircraft. She led the speechwriting team at the Pentagon for General Richard Myers, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sue has a master’s degree in English and graduated from Leadership Pikes Peak’s Signature Program class of 2007. She owns Sierra Consulting, providing speechwriting and communications consulting to corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. She is an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Technical University and Pikes Peak Community College. Sue served on the United States Air Force Academy Board of visitors, and currently is a trustee with the Falcon Foundation. Sue volunteers with Fostering Hope, an organization that supports foster families.
David Murray is executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association and editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day. He is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Atlantic and many other magazines and newspapers. And he’s the co-author of the New York Times best-selling memoir by Lt. Col. Mark Weber, Tell My Sons.
U.S. Air Force Academy
The Falcon Club
3120 Academy Dr.
U.S. Air Force Academy, CO 80840
Registered participants will be provided with additional detail for daily entry to the Academy via the North Gate (exit 156 on Interstate 25). DoD ID holders may also enter through the South Gate (exit 150 on Interstate 25).
Attire is either UOD or business casual. If you're undecided, we encourage business casual.