Speechwriting is the most lucrative of the communication specialties for a very good reason: It’s hard.
Writing something as personal as a speech for any other human being, let alone a VIP, can seem so difficult and complex that doubt can creep into the mind of even the most experienced professional. How do you start? Where do you get inspiration? 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?
There is no school for this. Yes, there is.
There’s Speechwriting School, convened by the Professional Speechwriters Association, hosted at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and taught by six of the best speechwriters, and speechwriting teachers, in the world.
The PSA offers a day of instruction that transforms professional writers and communicators into professional speechwriters and leadership communicators. Through a meticulously planned curriculum of entertaining lectures, tailored exercises and practical advice, participants 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?).
Past participants have raved about Speechwriting School: “Fantastic course. Will be the foundation for how I approach speeches going forward.” … “My future speeches will be structured completely differently. It catapulted me to a vision of speechwriting I had no idea existed.” … “I have thanked my boss for allowing me to attend because it was about the best workshop I’ve ever attended."
That’s because 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 when it’s done right, also so rewarding.
Prepare yourself for a full day of instruction that combines expert lectures, practical discussions and short writing exercises designed to cover every aspect of speechwriting.
7:30 a.m. – Registration and Welcome Breakfast
8:00-8:15 a.m. – Welcome to Speechwriting School
Speechwriting School director Fletcher Dean and Professional Speechwriters Association executive director David Murray set the stage for what may be the most significant day of learning in your communication career.
8:15-9:00 a.m. – Foundations of Speechwriting
Dr. Rosemary King, a former Pentagon speechwriter, demonstrates how to think about a speech even before you begin to write. She’ll show you “The Golden Triad of Speechwriting,” and teach you how 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.
9:00-11:00 a.m. – Structure and Substance: Why ‘How You Say It’ Is as Important as ‘What You Say’
You'll learn Monroe's Motivated Sequence—a structure that works for pretty much every speech—from veteran White House speechwriters and legendary rhetoric teachers Bob Lehrman and Eric Schnure. Lehrman and Schnure will show you every element every speech needs, and what each part does, walking you—and helping you walk yourself—from the beginning to the middle through the end of the speech.
11:00 a.m. – Break
11:15-noon – Visuals: A Speechwriter’s Crash Course
You’ll learn everything a speechwriter needs to know about using PowerPoint and Prezi—and not a thing more! Speechwriting School director Fletcher Dean will teach you when to use visuals, and just as importantly, when not to. And he’ll tell you how to “manage up,” advising your leaders (even to the point of shaming them) on how to use visuals in such a way that they truly aid in communication.
Noon-1:00 p.m. – Lunch, and Speechwriter Sit-Down: Essential Real World Tips for Speechwriters
Budding scribes begin to become savvy speechwriters as you learn the most practical aspects of speechwriting—getting access to speakers, gaining influence in the organization, getting the money you deserve. The real stuff. We’ll deal with it.
1:00-2:30 p.m. – Storytelling for Speechwriters: How to Make Your Speeches Sing
Mike Long, speechwriter, playwright and speechwriting instructor at Georgetown University, will lead the discussion on storytelling. He’ll 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 and panache.
2:30 p.m. - Break
2:45-4:00 p.m. – Editing: Secrets Every Speechwriter Should Know
Speechwriting School Director Fletcher Dean will share the editing secrets every speechwriter needs to know. He’ll explain how to take a deliberate approach to editing that will transform your copy into ‘must-hear’ oratory. You’ll learn how to use quotes, numbers, and research the right way, how to enhance your speaker’s credibility, how to simplify your writing for the ear, and how to make your speaker warm and personable, even if they aren’t.
4:00-5:00 p.m. – BONUS SESSION: How to Define, Own and Elevate Your Role
You’ve landed your dream speechwriter gig! Time now to shut the door, plug in your ear buds, ruminate, and write. Right? Think again. Writing is an important part of your job. It’s what you thought you were hired to do. But there’s much more you can and should be doing to serve your principal well. Veteran corporate speechwriter Lucinda Trew will share tools and value-adding tips to help you define, elevate—and keep!—your dream job. You’ll learn how to: Prep your speaker—from navigating the nitty-gritty details of podiums and podcasts to revising, rehearsing and refining; Promote your speaker—as a respected, go-to thought leader by identifying and advancing the issues he or she cares about; and Partner with your speaker—gain your speaker’s respect and confidence in a way that moves you beyond ‘trusty scribe’ to trusted advisor.
5:00-5:15 p.m. – Speechwriting School is Adjourned
School director Fletcher Dean and PSA executive director David Murray hand you your Certificate of Completion, wish you luck in your speechwriting career—and request that you stay in touch—and send us the fine speeches you write.
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, teaches at American University, and wrote The Political Speechwriter’s Companion (CQPress2009), now, with the addition of collaborator Eric Schnure, under contract for a Second Edition.
David Murray is editor of Vital Speeches of the Day and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association. A journalist, Murray also co-authored the New York Times bestselling memoir Tell My Sons: A Father’s Last Letters and wrote Raised By Mad Men, a book about his parents’ careers in 1960s-era advertising.
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.
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.
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.
Lucinda Trew is an award-winning speechwriter and communications strategist. Over the course of a 30-year corporate career she has helped dozens of Fortune 500 CEOs, directors and C-suite executives advance business and reputational goals through strong narrative and compelling content.
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 Speechwriting School. To register under the room block, please call 1-888-902-1606 or 202-687-3200 and reference the Professional Speechwriters Association World Conference. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of September 15, 2017, or once the discounted room block is sold out.
*UPDATE* The Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center room block is now full. The PSA has secured a second room block at The Georgetown Inn, a short walk from the Georgetown University campus. To make a reservation, please call 202-333-8900 and reference the "Professional Speechwriters" group name for discounted rates. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of September 15, 2017, 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.