Speechwriting is the most sought-after and well-compensated communication specialty for two very good reasons: It’s hard. And—especially at this moment when leadership communication is helping to make or break our response to a global crisis—it’s very, very important.
Writing a speech, presentation or video script for a powerful leader can seem so difficult and complex and high-stakes that doubt can creep into the mind of even the most experienced professional. How do you start? How do you capture the speaker’s ideas, the voice, the intonation? Is there an ideal structure? And, oh wait, it has to deliver a message that an audience might actually remember and act on?
There is no school for this. Yes, there is.
There’s Speechwriting School Online, convened by the Professional Speechwriters Association and taught by some of the best speechwriters, and speechwriting teachers, in the world.
Over seven weeks, seven great instructors will transform professional writers and communicators into professional speechwriters and leadership communicators. Participants will get the big picture (what makes a great speech and why) all the way down to the very most practical considerations (how many words in a 20 minute speech?).
Every single one of our all-star cast of active speechwriters, teachers and coaches have sat exactly where you sit now. They know what works. They know what doesn’t work. And, even more importantly, they love to teach speechwriting—because it is so hard, and also so rewarding, when it’s done right.
Each online session stands alone as a valuable lesson in leadership communication, and all six sessions together amount to a master class in speechwriting. Take them one by one and turn your weaknesses into strengths, or complete the full online course—which includes a bonus session with the School Faculty—and transform yourself into a speechwriter with a certificate of completion to prove it.
001—The Golden Triad of Speechwriting (Wednesday, May 6, 1:00pm EDT)
Dr. Rosemary King, a former Pentagon speechwriter, teaches you how to explore and align the three crucial elements of every speech: audience, purpose and message. You’ll learn how they work together—at the very beginning of the speechwriting process—to provide a sturdy foundation for every successful piece of oral communication.
002—Structure: Why ‘How You Say It’ Is as Important as ‘What You Say’ (Wednesday, May 13, 1:00pm EDT)
Veteran White House speechwriter Bob Lehrman, author of The Political Speechwriter's Companion and teacher of public communication at American University, will demonstrate why the structure of your speech is vitally important to creating audience understanding. Deciding on the right structure early not only streamlines your writing but motivates listeners to act. Lehrman will help you master several sturdy structures, one of which will work for almost every speech you write.
003—Making the Case: How to Support Your Argument, Credibly, Convincingly and Entertainingly (Wednesday, May 20, 1:00pm EDT)
You have a theme, and you know your structure. But what gives the body of the speech the muscle to move an audience? In this session, with Washington’s most sought-after humor speechwriter and high-profile corporate executive communication counselor Eric Schnure, you’ll learn how to use all the rhetorical tools—anecdotes; wit; quotations; statistics presented so that the numbers don’t numb—in ways that convince audiences that the problems they address are urgent, and that the solutions they suggest are reasonable, practical and right.
004—Storytelling for Speechwriters: How to Make Your Speeches Stick (Wednesday, May 27, 1:00pm EDT)
Mike Long, speechwriter, playwright and speechwriting instructor at Georgetown University, will demonstrate the importance of storytelling. He’ll teach you where to find stories. He’ll show you how to incorporate them gracefully into a speech. And he’ll teach you how to get your speaker to deliver them with authenticity, panache and impact—so they do their job of making the speech memorable and bonding the speaker and the message to the audience.
005—PowerPoint (and Prezi): Good, Bad, Ugly and Effective (Wednesday, June 10, 1:00pm EDT)
PowerPoint: Like it or not, it’s part of the speechwriter’s skill set. Award-winning speechwriter and executive communications expert Dr. Vincent Rhodes will share the very latest and best thinking on how to incorporate electronic slides into the speech. Which programs to use, how to each them most effectively. And when—and how—to wean your speakers off. You’ll emerge from this session with novel ideas on how visual aids work best and a sense of when they don’t work at all.
006—Editing: How to Make Your Speeches Sing (Wednesday, June 17, 1:00pm EDT)
Award-winning speechwriter, author of the standard text 10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech, and Director of the Speechwriting School, Fletcher Dean, will share what is possibly the most overlooked part of the entire process. He’ll demonstrate how to break the editing down into bite-sized chunks as you transform a sound speech into magical music. By way of before-and-after examples, he’ll show you how to make sure a speech is truly written for the ear. And he’ll share the power of simplicity, the importance of keeping the language fresh and subtle tips on how to make your speaker more warm and personable.
BONUS SESSION (for Full Online Course participants only)—Office Hours: An Open Audience with the Speechwriting School Faculty (Wednesday, June 24, 1:00pm EDT)
Egos. Access. Approvals. Professional loneliness. People who write speeches—or those who would write speeches—have problems that non-speechwriters will never understand. Veteran speechwriters get it—and they’re here to help. Bring your problems, your anxieties, and your doubts to this open mentoring call—along with any questions that didn’t get answered during the rest of the Speechwriting School Online—and let’s work on them together, in an all-faculty workshop facilitated by David Murray, executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association.
Rosemary King, PhD, is a sought-after leadership communication consultant. She served as speechwriter for Defense Secretary Robert Gates and two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers and General Peter Pace. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
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 and teaches at American University. He is the co-author, along with Eric Schnure, of The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, 2nd Ed. (SAGE, August 2019).
Eric Schnure is an independent leadership communication strategist who served as Director of Executive Communications at GE and now helps high-profile leaders across sectors become more effective communicators. 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. He teaches speechwriting at American University and Johns Hopkins University and conducts popular workshops all over the world. He is the co-author, along with Bob Lehrman, of The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, 2nd Ed. (SAGE, August 2019).
Mike Long is a speechwriter and award-winning playwright and screenwriter based in Washington, D.C. He is a former director of the White House Writers Group and a lecturer at Georgetown University, where he served most recently as the director of writing for the graduate program in PR. Mike is also the co-author of the new book, The Molecule of More.
Vincent Rhodes, PhD, APR, is an expert in the use of visual technology to enhance leadership communication, and a popular speaker and teacher. He currently serves as Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Fletcher Dean is an award-winning writer of speeches and author of 10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech. He’s a popular presenter at speechwriting conferences around the world. He currently serves as Director, Office of the Chairman & CEO and Executive Communications at The Dow Chemical Company.
David Murray is executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association, and editor & publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day, an 82-year-old collection of the best oral communication in the U.S. and the world.
Speechwriting School Online is conducted via webinar platform.
Before each session, we'll email simple directions to join the webinar. And after each session, we'll email a link to the webinar recording.
Please email Benjamine Knight, PSA operations director, with any questions.
Or call 312-585-6383.
Q: What is the cost of this online training program?
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