Oratorical conventions, communication ethics and rhetorical rules are being challenged. And an entire profession has been disoriented.
There has never been a moment like this. And there has never been a speechwriting conference like this.
The 2017 World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association opens with a searching keynote speech by Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of the book that made President Trump plausible, Art of the Deal.
The conference includes White House speechwriters to every president from Obama back through Nixon.
It ends with a capnote conversation with First Lady Michelle Obama’s speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz.
And it winds through three thrilling days of professional and personal exchanges with some of the most illustrious, industrious and inventive corporate, nonprofit, university and independent speechwriters in our business.
Hosted by the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, sponsored by Gotham Ghostwriters and SKDKnickerbocker, convened by the PSA and emceed by Vital Speeches of the Day editor & 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.
This year, those conversations among speechwriters from around the United States, North America and the world will buzz with the urgency of people whose livelihoods hang in the balance.
Serious speechwriter, we will see you there.
MONDAY, OCT. 16
12:00-1:00 • Registration
1:00-5:00 • Pre-Conference Workshops: Choose from Two Workshops Offered in One Afternoon
A Half-Day Pre-Conference Seminar (Optional, Extra Fee.)
Pre-Conference Workshop A: Beyond the Speech—Using Digital and Social Media to Spread the Message and Grow the Audience
A speech is written and delivered. The audience hears it and may tell others. Clips might be used in media reporting. A YouTube video may attract a few interested viewers.
But through the smart and creative use of digital and social media, speeches can have more than a modest afterlife—but rather a dynamic new life, attracting and engaging new audiences you never dreamed would be interested in what your executives have to say.
Vital Speeches editor and PSA executive director David Murray calls Shel Holtz “the first and best leading voice for corporate adoption of digital media.” In this interactive workshop, the man who has ushered thousands of communication executives into the digital age will share the huge array of opportunities for taking your executives social, and help you decide which will produce the best results for your clients.
Shel will show you how the most digital-savvy executives are getting results far beyond meaningless metrics like “impressions” and “reach.”
You will learn:
- Why an executive’s presence in the right social media channels can raise awareness of and spark interest in every speech she delivers.
- How to excerpt and repurpose a speech for digital distribution so it has a chance to go viral.
- Why short videos rule social media (and how to produce them for less-than-pithy clients).
- How to work with your organization’s social media team to create more spontaneous and compelling leadership communication content.
- How understanding the key message will drive your approach to social media (and how social media will help you find your key message).
You will leave this session a more versatile, and thus more valuable executive communication professional.
Pre-Conference Workshop B: Unforgettable Storytelling—Finally, the Storytelling Techniques that Drive Speeches Strategically and Engage Audiences Deeply
Storytelling is not joke-telling. Everyone pays lip service to the idea of storytelling, but most so-called business stories miss the mark. Practitioners are so terrified at the idea of losing their audience's attention that they reach for a tidy, safe, standalone anecdote rather than trusting in the power of story to engage an audience deeply.
Dr. Nick Morgan has helped some of the most successful professional speakers over the past two decades tell powerful stories, and he's ready to share his secrets for creating and structuring speeches that move audiences to action in this interactive workshop.
Recent advances in neuroscience reveal both the how and why of making real storytelling work for audiences today. Coupling the neuroscience together with some ancient art creates unforgettable combinations for attention-deficit, information-overloaded customers, clients and audiences everywhere.
You'll learn how to:
- Hook an audience with a sure-fire opening.
- Pitch a story at the right level so that audiences stay engaged to the end.
- Structure a speech to lead audiences to commitment every time.
- Match the right story structure to the business need.
- Create a closing that gets your speaker a standing ovation.
Morgan leads a session that will help you find your clients’ best stories, increase their persuasiveness, and engage the organization’s most important audiences at their core.
TUESDAY, OCT. 17
8:00-8:45 • Registration and Welcome Breakfast
8:45-9:00 • Opening Remarks
9:00-10:15 • Keynote Address: From Rueful Ghost to Leadership Coach—The Hard-Earned Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal
The Art of the Deal launched Donald Trump’s career as a business icon. Its ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, has long-since disavowed it, expressing deep regret, most famously in a New Yorker article in which he said he feels a “deep sense of remorse” for having legitimized Trump and his communication philosophy of “truthful hyperbole.” But far from shrinking from the ethically fraught and demonstrably dangerous world of helping position powerful people, Schwartz turned his career to working with corporate leaders, drawing on the difficult lessons he learned from his work with Trump. As CEO of The Energy Project, Schwartz and his team help organizations better meet the human needs of their employees to fuel more sustainable high performance, and also work with leaders to widen and deepen their own world view so they can solve increasingly complex problems. In this keynote address, Schwartz will walk his fellow ghosts through “the dilemma I faced ethically in undertaking Art of the Deal, what I learned from that experience and how it has shaped my life since.”
10:15-10:45 • Candid Roundtable Conversation
Previous World Conference participants make new friends of first-timers, as speechwriters discuss how they came into this strange profession—and what they hope to accomplish next in their career.
10:45-12:00 • Real. Leadership Communication. (How to make your Exec Comms Real Powerful, Real Authentic—and Real Time.)
“Leadership communication” may have been conceived as a fancy term for speechwriting, but it has become something much more than that. Social media has made it possible and in most cases advisable for leaders to get out from behind the lectern and communicate more authentically, more intimately, more immediately—and thus, more compellingly than ever before. In this best-practice-packed panel, communication technology pioneer Shel Holtz, Verizon’s social-media savvy senior executive communications manager Lauren Tilstra and innovative PepsiCo senior director of communications Rod Thorn show you the profound possibilities available to speechwriters who wish to achieve more for their leaders, and their organizations.
12:00-12:45 • Lunch & Conversation with Your Industry Peers
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. We’ll see to it that you make those crucial connections at this organized luncheon session.
12:45-1:15 • PSA Crowdsource!
In this fun, fast-paced idea-jam, conference participants step up to the microphone and share with their peers tricks of the speechwriting and leadership communication trade. Bring an idea of your own!
1:15-1:30 • Break
1:30-3:45 • Breakout Sessions: Choose from Eight Sessions In Two Tracks
Hone your craft or tend to your career: You can do both in these practical sessions.
Craft Track: “It Needs More Jokes!” A Speechwriter’s Guide to Abide
Shakespeare warned it causes wrinkles. Lincoln used it to “ease the fearful strain” of the Civil War. Vonnegut quipped it requires less clean-up than tears. For speechwriters, too, laughter is a powerful tool—it helps capture an audience’s attention, make a connection, and render a speaker more human. That’s why so many speakers continue to torment their writers with requests for jokes—opening jokes, closing jokes and just more jokes in general. Laugh while you learn, as West Wing Writers principal and humor specialist Clare Doody gives you tips for writing them, borrowing them, and, best of all, teaching jokes to write themselves.
Career Track: The Survivors—Lessons from Two Pros Who Have Played the Long Game, and Won
Speechwriting can be a burnout job because stress is high and job security is low. It’s important to hear from speechwriters who have survived the jerky clients, upheavals in office politics and other Kafkaesque misadventures to build long, successful careers in speechwriting. Pfizer executive speechwriter John Santoro and Professional Speechwriters Association lead trainer Mark Misercola have been at it since the 1980s, and their careers are going strong. Gotham Ghostwriters’ Dan Gerstein will draw out their candid advice for those who wonder if doing what they love can co-exist with the slings and arrows of corporate life.
Craft Track: Spinning Straw Speeches into Golden Remarks (and Thus Amusing Your Speaker and Saving Your Sanity)
Routine memos and run-of-the-mill ceremonial remarks—these unglamorous duties comprise a significant part of every speechwriter’s job. They can be the bane of your existence. Or you can turn them into a guilty pleasure by crafting little gems that make your boss look good, make you look good, and make your ego feel great. Jim Nichols, director of CEO communications at USAA, will share “how my perfectionism has taught me that doing something beyond ordinary can have an extraordinary lifting effect on my speechwriter's soul”—and he’ll show you how he turned a throwaway assignment into a mini-masterpiece.
Career Track: The Freelance Survivors: Secrets from Independent Speechwriters Who Have Made It This Far (Knock Wood)
A Cicero Speechwriting Award-winning freelancer since 1989, Teresa Zumwald’s first tip is never to use the world “freelancer” with a prospect, because it contains the severely misleading term “free.” Janet Stovall, another Cicero-winning freelancer since 1994, has developed ways of speaking to clients that keep clients coming back. (Hint: Politeness and compliance are not always the order of the day.) In conversation with Gotham Ghostwriters’ Dan Gerstein, they’ll tell you how to set up the necessary business processes, how to market yourself, how to cultivate self-discipline and how to avoid pitfalls that sink freelance speechwriters.
Craft Track: Communicating in a Crisis—How Speechwriters Shape Public Response
During an organizational crisis, at some point the boss has to make a statement. How the boss frames the problem, assigns blame, describes the solution, and prescribes the path forward can set the strategy toward recovery, or condemn the organization to even greater public backlash. If speechwriters are going to help, they must know the science of strategic framing in times of crisis. With communication strategist Shaun Adamec, you’ll explore the evolution of a crisis and the role leadership language plays. You’ll examine real-life examples where executives have driven successful crisis strategies as well as examples where executives have dug a deeper hole. You’ll emerge with a better vision of the distinct role a speechwriter has in guiding an executive through a reputational crisis.
Career Track: Write Your Own Strategy, Write Your Own Ticket—Why Exec Comms Strategies Differ from all Other Strategies
Unlike communication strategies designed to sell products or re-energize a brand, executive communication strategies promote people—living, breathing senior leaders with strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, emotions and dreams. This strategy must strike a balance between organizational needs and personal skills, the public advocate and the private person, and what the audience needs versus what the executive can realistically provide. Veteran executive communication director Jeff Opperman will show you how to make an exec comms strategy that fits the executive and the organization he or she serves.
Craft Track: Using Oratory to Create Dialogue on the Most Difficult Subject
New Zealand is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations on earth as well as one of the most peaceful. Talking openly about diversity, discrimination and racism is a fundamental part of the South Pacific nation’s first nationwide anti-racism campaign, “That’s Us.” Find out from the campaign’s key communication strategist, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s Christine Ammunson how talking about racism is an uncomfortable but necessary conversation that more and more Kiwis are having. And discover techniques for starting similarly constructive conversations in your own world.
Career Track: Deep Dive—How to Build a Holistic Executive Social Media Strategy … And “Like” It
Have you ever wondered just how many people interact with your executive communication content? Or what people really think of your big ideas and perspective? Or even who’s interested in the same topics that you are? Verizon senior executive communications manager Lauren Tilstra thinks about these questions every day—and finds answers. In a world where likes and follows have a direct impact on brand perception, she’s been on a mission over the last year to humanize the voice of her organization generally— and specifically, to increase her CEO’s LinkedIn following by over 100k. And she’s succeeded on earned content and engagement alone. Join this session and learn how she did it—and how to build a sustainable social media framework of your own.
3:45-4:00 • Break
4:00-5:30 • All the President’s Pens: Speechwriters from Obama Through Nixon Speak Out on the State of White House Speechwriting, and the Future of Presidential Rhetoric
Aram Bakshian wrote for Nixon and Ford (and directed White House speechwriting for Reagan). Bob Rackleff wrote for Carter. Clark Judge for Reagan. Mary Kate Cary for Bush 41. Jeff Shesol for Clinton. Chris Michel for Bush 43. And Sarada Peri for Obama. In a panel conversation moderated by Robert Schlessinger, author of White House Ghosts, each White House speechwriter will compare and contrast the rhetoric coming out of the Trump White House and the rhetoric they produced over the last half-century. All with a constructive mind to giving us precious professional perspective in year in politics and communication when perspective has been hard to come by.
5:30-6:30 • Cone-of-Silence Cocktails, sponsored by the Cicero Speechwriting Awards
Members of the Discretion Profession will drink together, think together, sync together, and clink our glasses together as we toast the winners of the 2017 Cicero Speechwriting Awards.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18
8:30-9:00 • Gather for Breakfast
9:00-10:00 • State of the Profession
PSA executive director David Murray will share exclusive top-line results of the soon-to-be-released PSA Speechwriting Salary Survey. Well-networked speechwriters from around the world will report on relevant trends in the speechwriting business in Europe, Africa and the Pacific Rim. And we’ll open the floor to conference participants who want to discuss any aspect of the speechwriting business.
10:00-11:00 • PSA Issue Panel: How Can We Make Rhetoric a Force for Good? By Making Every Citizen Rhetoric Literate.
Simon Lancaster is a speechwriter on a mission. Whereas most speechwriters prefer to keep the tricks of their trade up their sleeve, this prominent British speechwriter blurts them out at every opportunity: writing books, giving interviews and even giving a popular TEDx talk about asyndeton, anaphora and antithesis. Lancaster’s rationale is clear: In a democracy, everyone should have an equal opportunity to express themselves, and the same tools at their disposal. Otherwise, all debates favor a narrow elite. If schools gave rhetoric the same importance as reading, writing and arithmetic, people will know the difference between being led and misled, which is even more important in this “post-truth age.” We’ll listen to Lancaster’s passionate case for a universal “right to rhetoric,” and we’ll discuss its merit and practicality. And perhaps we’ll also discuss other ways that speechwriters can use their powers for good.
11:00-11:45 • Candid Mentoring Session Among Veteran Speechwriters, Young Pros and Aspiring Scribes
There are no naive questions when the aspiring speechwriters who comprise the undergraduate Georgetown Speechwriting Advisory Group mingle with veteran speechwriters, who get a rare and happy chance to share what they wish they'd known from the start.
11:45-12:00 • Break
12:00-1:00 • Speechwriting and Self-Actualization: A Capnote Conversation with the Woman Who Helped Michelle Obama Share Her Voice With the World
Speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz’s second meeting with Michelle Obama was a 90-minute discussion about what she wanted to say in her 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. “She clearly said to me: ‘This is who I am. This is where I come from. This is my family. These are my values, and this is what I want to talk about at the convention,’” Hurwitz recalled in a Washington Post profile last year. As Hurwitz served the First Lady over the next nine years, their relationship only deepened further. The result? Hundreds of fine speeches in which the First Lady became more and more popular and influential—here in America and across the globe. In a conversation not about politics but about the secrets of relationship-building between speechwriters and their clients and how speechwriters can help clients find—and use—their most authentic voice, Hurwitz’s fellow White House speechwriter Stephen Krupin asks her: How did she and the First Lady do it? And what precious lessons can the rest of us learn?
1:00 • Closing Remarks
Aram Bakshian, Jr., has served as an aide and speechwriter to three U.S. Presidents and as Editor-in Chief of American Speaker, the award-winning comprehensive guide to public speaking and speechwriting from its founding in 1992 until his retirement 17 years later. He is currently a Contributing Editor of The National Interest. Bakshian is also a speaker, broadcaster and the author or co-author of six books. His articles, essays and reviews on politics, history, humor, gastronomy and the arts have appeared in major American and overseas publications.
Bob Rackleff since 1974 has been a speechwriter for a U.S. President and First Lady (Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter), U.S. Senator Ed Muskie, four Cabinet Secretaries, two Sub-Cabinet officials, and himself. He also wrote for the Chairman of Time Inc. and later, during 27 years of freelancing, several dozen corporate and nonprofit CEOs. He ran for elected office five times in Tallahassee FL, serving as Leon County Commissioner 1998-2010, then returned to Washington DC in 2012 as speechwriter for Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and HUD Secretary Julian Castro. Rackleff earned a bachelor's and master's degree and doctoral studies in history at Florida State University. He is a retired Naval Intelligence officer. Married to Esther Moring, an emergency medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders since 1995, he is the father of three grown children.
Chris Michel is an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and former director of speechwriting to President George W. Bush. He started at the White House as an intern in 2003 and ultimately held almost every position in the speechwriting office. He played a role in more than 500 presidential speeches, including five State of the Union addresses. At the end of the Bush Administration, he moved to Dallas to assist President Bush with his presidential memoir, Decision Points, and a biography of his father, 41. He subsequently attended law school at Yale and clerked for Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit and Chief Justice John G. Roberts. He now practices law in Washington, D.C., and teaches constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two daughters.
When she was seven Christine Ammunson wrote her first speech and gave it to her principal to use at school assembly. He didn’t. Years later she’s still writing speeches as a communications strategist at New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission. A former political journalist and ministerial press secretary, Christine’s speeches have been delivered at the United Nations, in the New Zealand Parliament as part of truth and reconciliation settlements with Maori tribes, at the headquarters of the People’s Republic of China and down at her kids’ local rugby club in their small country town. She’s currently the lead strategist for New Zealand’s first nationwide anti-racism campaign: “That’s Us” has already engaged with more than 1.5 million Kiwis.
Clare Doody is Principal at West Wing Writers, where she has helped some of the biggest names in business, politics and philanthropy craft their messages and lead global conversations. As a member of West Wring Writers’ humor team, she has written jokes for Governors, Senators and Cabinet Secretaries. She also writes an occasional humor column for the Washington Post, finding the light side of topics from the World Economic Forum to the domestic habits of orangutans.
Clark S. Judge served as Speechwriter and Special Assistant to both President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush. As Founder and Managing Director of the White House Writers Group, he has advised some of the world’s most prominent corporations in meeting their strategic and communications challenges in the U.S. and elsewhere. As an opinion journalist, he has written extensively on U.S politics, the international financial crisis, health care reform, the current state of the U.S. and global economies and global security issues.
Dan Gerstein directs the Gotham Ghostwriters, which connects leaders with writers to create communications that connect with audiences. Gerstein draws on the experience he gained during a decade-long career as a speechwriter and communications strategist in the U.S. Senate and for two presidential campaigns.
As Global Strategy Director for Edelman, David Armano’s remit includes partnering with the firm’s senior clients across a handful of key U.S.-based accounts with global reach. He has contributed articles to the Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg Businessweek, AdAge, Adweek and Digiday. Prior to joining Edelman, David was a part of the founding team of social business consultancy Dachis Group. He has worked with top brands and organizations in the world including HP, Kellogg's, PayPal, United Airlines, Adidas, Hilton, Barilla, the U.S. Dairy Industry.
Founder and principal of The Point Communications, Janet Marie Stovall helps corporate, nonprofit, political and entertainment leaders communicate the messages they want in the voices they need to the people they choose. Her niches are healthcare, IT and workplace diversity. She’s increasingly a go-to on culturally credible communications. She also develops and manages marketing and advertising campaigns, communications and executive positioning projects for leading U.S. companies.
Jeff Opperman is the director of internal communications at ChenMed in Miami, Fla. Prior to joining ChenMed, Opperman directed executive communications at Pace University and LexisNexis. He also created and facilitates “Writing for Results”—a one-day writing seminar that helps professionals become more effective communicators.
Jeff Shesol was deputy chief speechwriter in the Clinton White House. A founding partner of West Wing Writers, Shesol is author of Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. The Supreme Court and also Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade. A Rhodes Scholar, Shesol received his Masters in history at Oxford University in 1993 and graduated from Brown University in 1991.
Jim Nichols aspires to be the Max Martin of the corporate-communications world. You probably don’t know Martin’s name, but you know his work: He’s written 22 songs that became No. 1 hits for artists such as Katy Perry, Pink, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and The Weeknd. Jim is a leadership-communications strategist who quietly helps bosses and clients shine in the spotlight. By day, he is director of CEO communications at USAA. By night, he writes speeches, op-eds and web content as principal of Coleridge Communications Ltd., a boutique consulting firm.
In his 27 years with biopharma giant Pfizer, John Santoro has led management communications, CEO communications and employee communications. He is currently the company’s executive speechwriter and works most closely with Pfizer EVP and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, who serves as the “face” of the company to the world. He’s on the board of advisors for Corporate Communications International, is past president of the Communications Leadership Exchange, and is a member of the New York Speechwriter’s Roundtable.
Lauren Tilstra is senior executive communications manager at Verizon. She has a reputation for executing disruptive executive communications strategies for some of the world’s most influential Fortune 100 leaders and innovators. Before Verizon, Lauren served on the executive and internal communications teams at Time Warner, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and McGraw-Hill. Tilstra is a Penn State graduate and a passionate advocate for getting more women into leadership in business and technology. She’s on the global board of the Women’s Association of Verizon Employees and is a member of Step Up, Tech World’s Half, and Friends for Global Change.
Mark Misercola has served as a speechwriter for senior level executives at several Fortune 500 firms, including IBM, PepsiCo, Avon, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, NYNEX and Union Carbide. He has also led internal communications functions at Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Deloitte. He began his career as a business reporter with the Buffalo News and former Courier-Express. Misercola also teaches leadership communications, reputational management and business writing courses as an adjunct professor at Columbia University, New York University, Baruch College in New York, and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
Mary Kate Cary is a former White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, and writes for a variety of corporate and political leaders. She is a senior fellow for presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, and a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication speakers, theorists and coaches. A passionate teacher, he is committed to helping people find clarity in their thinking and ideas—and then delivering them with panache. He has been commissioned by Fortune 50 companies to write for many CEOs and presidents. He has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear on the Today Show, and to deliver unforgettable TED talks. He has worked widely with political and educational leaders. And he has himself spoken, led conferences, and moderated panels at venues around the world.
Robert Schlesinger is managing editor for Opinion at U.S. News & World Report and the author of White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters.
Sarada Peri is a speechwriter and communications strategist. She served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Presidential Speechwriter for Barack Obama. She was also a member of the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Convention speechwriting teams. Prior to joining the White House, she was a Principal at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and strategy firm. Before falling into speechwriting, Sarada worked on Capitol Hill as an education and health care policy advisor to former Senator Mary Landrieu. She started her career as a high school English teacher through Teach for America in New Orleans. She is a graduate of Tufts University and holds a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Sarah Hurwitz was a White House speechwriter from 2009 to 2017, starting out as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama and then serving as chief speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama. Hurwitz worked with Mrs. Obama to craft widely-acclaimed addresses—including her 2016 Democratic National Convention speech and her political speeches during the 2016 campaign cycle—and traveled with the First Lady across America and to five continents. Hurwitz also worked on policy issues affecting young women and girls as a senior advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls. Before working at the White House, Hurwitz was chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential primary campaign, deputy chief speechwriter for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, deputy chief speechwriter for General Wesley Clark’s primary campaign, and a speechwriter for Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Hurwitz was also a lawyer at the Washington, DC office of WilmerHale. Sarah is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Shaun Adamec is Founder and President of Adamec Communications, a strategic communications consulting practice exclusively serving mission-driven organizations. Adamec is an experienced writer, storyteller, strategic, and communicator, helping to develop narrative, voice, messaging, and reputational support for some of the nation's most noteworthy nonprofit brands, including City Year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the American Red Cross, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Additionally, Adamec's experience in government and politics includes communications, messaging, and crisis management support for a City Council, a major-city Mayor, a governor and a Presidential campaign. He holds a BA in Political Science from Providence College and a MA in Government and Political Communications from The Johns Hopkins University, and lives with his wife and three children near Boston.
Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology (HC+T), where he counsels companies on the integration of digital and social media into the strategic communication plans.Shel launched HC+T in 1996, before which he held communication leadership roles in Fortune 500 companies and global Human Resources consulting firms. He brings more than 40 years of experience to his engagements, which also include training and speaking assignments. He has written six communication-themed books including Tactical Transparency and Corporate Conversations. He is a pioneer podcaster and a prolific blogger. Shel is a Fellow of the International Association of Business Communicators, and Founding Fellow of the Society for New Communication Research, and a Platinum Fellow of The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.
Simon Lancaster is one of the world’s top speechwriters. He first became a speechwriter in the late 1990s writing for members of Tony Blair’s Cabinet. He has since written speeches for the CEOs of many of the biggest companies in the world including Unilever, HSBC, Intercontinental Hotels, Rio Tinto, Nokia and Nestle. He also works with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Varkey Foundation and a number of NGOs. He is author of Speechwriting: The Expert Guide and Winning Minds: Secrets from the Language of Leadership. He is an Executive Fellow of Henley Business School, a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and appears regularly on BBC News.
Stephen Krupin helps leaders tell the authentic stories they need to tell in order to sell the ideas they want to sell. He served as a senior speechwriter to President Obama in the White House and as chief speechwriter to Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He leads the executive communications practice at SKDKnickerbocker and teaches speechwriting at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Opening her own shop in 1989 was an experiment that’s never ended for Teresa Zumwald, a speechwriter, speech coach, communications consultant and three-time corporate history book author. At Zumwald & Company, LLC, she’s worked one-on-one with brilliant CEOs, entrepreneurs and subject matter experts at more than 80 organizations to tell stories that resonate. In 2009 she added speechwriting to her repertoire, and since 2013, her speeches have won 10 awards including five Cicero Speechwriting Awards. She’s also the speechwriter for the chairman of the board of two global manufacturing companies based in Europe.
Tony Schwartz is the CEO and founder of The Energy Project, which helps companies fuel sustainable high performance by better meeting the needs of their employees. His most recent book, The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. In 2013, Tony launched a biweekly column for the New York Times titled “Life@Work.” Schwartz began his career as a journalist. He has been a reporter for the New York Times, an editor at Newsweek, a staff writer at Esquire, and a columnist for Fast Company.
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 seven years 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.
SKDK brings unparalleled strategic communications experience to companies, campaigns, and causes. Through speechwriting, media training, and message development, the strategists and writers in our executive communications practice have helped high-profile thinkers shape and share their ideas on the biggest stages and best-read pages—from the White House and World Economic Forum to “The Daily Show” and “60 Minutes” and in cover stories and opinion pieces seen around the globe.
Convened by Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, the Professional Speechwriters Association offers training, information, 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 or 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.If you would like to explore more hotel options, Georgetown University recommends several properties 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.