Every year since 2014, speechwriters have gathered from around the world to trade ideas and experiences with other members of their tiny but powerful profession.
This year, the speechwriting world will come together again—this time virtually—for a crucial conversation about our profession in the wake of the most tumultuous year any of us have ever lived through.
Still in the throes of cultural and economic upheaval, and just two weeks before the U.S. presidential election, speakers and participants will be answering such fundamental questions as:
What is speechwriting now?
What must speechwriters learn to remain essential communication workers? Best practices, communications innovations, tech tips and career strategies for this time.
How can speechwriters contribute to a more constructive political language at this furious moment, and in its wake?
And can speechwriters create a common rhetorical philosophy that will help, as the Greeks urged so long ago, to make gentle the life of this world?
From this convivial, festival-style World Conference week of presentations and intimate collegial conversations, speechwriters will take renewed confidence, crucial new skills, useful connections (and reassuring reconnections).
Tour your professional world without leaving your home and regain your vision of the future of leadership communication, and your place in it.
(All Times ET)
Monday preconference workshop (optional)
Virtual Communication College: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Leader as Compelling from a Distance as in Person
The single most important skill a speechwriter can learn right now is how to make their leader a better onscreen communicator. This means a different style of writing, delivery coaching, and even tech know-how that used to be the purview of others—but must now be among the core competencies of any leadership communication professional:
- Speechwriting Versus Scriptwriting: How to Write More Conversationally to Build an Authentic Connection, Long Distance.
- How to Use Virtual Tech to Get the Best Effect. Everything you need to know about lighting, audio, cameras and backgrounds.
- Delivery: The 10 Mistakes Your Speakers Are Probably Making and Tips for Making Them Stop
Go into this session a speechwriter struggling to help your speaker get better on video, come out a confident practitioner of virtual leadership communication.
All delivered in an interactive session by star trainers Nicole Lowenbraun and Jeff Davenport, from Duarte—the legendary Silicon Valley firm that revolutionized presentation design, and provides content and delivery coaching to some of the most influential speakers in the world.
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Keynote Panel: Speechwriting, As We Know It—A Gut Check for a Profession, and a Clear-Eyed View Toward the Future
Since the inaugural World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association seven years ago, the concept of truth has been damaged to the point of mockery. Traditional speeches have been made temporarily obsolete by a global pandemic and speechwriters have had to redefine themselves and retool their skills for a whole new kind of leadership communication. Speechwriters’ clients are now looked to for leadership on issues seemingly far afield from the organizations they run. And the already troubled nation that led the world in compelling rhetoric has cracked into pieces.
It’s time to take stock.
PSA founder and executive director David Murray reveals results of a new State of the Profession study, and leads a panel from the PSA Advisory Council, the Executive Communication Council, the UK Speechwriters Guild and the European Speechwriter Network to discuss the viability of speechwriting in a virtual age—and how speechwriters must change.
Bring your ideas, too; this panel will be interactive.
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Among Friends—Networking, with Industry Colleagues: In a roomful of virtual roundtables in an onscreen environment that looks very much like the Fisher Colloquium where speechwriters usually convene at Georgetown University, you’ll sit face to face with speechwriters in your speechwriting sector—whether you’re corporate, government, university or nonprofit—and share your specific experiences and concerns, your needs and your plans for the future.
Special Independent Speechwriters Biz Dev Workshop: Gotham Ghostwriters founder Dan Gerstein moderates a wide-open “Ask Us Anything” panel, where superstar independent speechwriters Rosemary King, Teresa Zumwald and Cheril Clarke share how they’ve pivoted—and, how they’ve stood their ground—to stay sustainable since everything changed.
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
The New Best Practices in Leadership Communication
It’s a best-practice bonanza full of practical and innovative solutions to the very most urgent questions:
- Keynote Conversation: Leadership authenticity—what does it mean now, and how can speechwriters and speakers achieve it? With Mary C. Daly, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Justine Adelizzi, the speechwriter who helped her create and deliver the concept of “3D Public Servants,” and the stunning speech of the same name. The two women will talk about the making of the speech—and what has happened in the wake of its delivery.
- How to make your leaders attractive to organizers of virtual conferences (and compelling, once they get there)? From the very beginning of the pandemic, UPS’ already strategic exec comms pros set out to make sure their leaders were positioned to remain visible and effective in the new environment. Exec comms manager Janet Stovall and creative development manager James Rowe have transform speeches at UPS for the virtual landscape, and they’ll teach how to do the same at your organization.
- Executive communication now: What is it, and what must it become. In this rapid-fire panel, some of the world’s leading executive communicators in the world—members of the Executive Communication Council from Target, Verizon, Cox Automotive, AARP, UPS, Splunk and McDonald’s—will share their new best practices so they can become your new best practices. Moderated by ECC member advisor Sharon McIntosh.
- And what about you—and your career? Dare to be deliberate. Most working speechwriters and exec comms folks are anxious about the future but far too overworked to think for a second about managing their careers. Recruiter Angee Linsey specializes in exec comms recruiting, and she’ll tell you how to manage your job differently—even now—for your own good, and for the good of your organization.
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
Among Friends—Shoptalk, Trading Skills You’ve Built for Advice You Need: Moderated conversations in which you share with your colleagues the necessity-born inventions you’ve made over these demanding months, while learning what they’ve picked up, too.
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Political Rhetoric, and You
Less than two weeks before the U.S. presidential election, what are our leaders and candidates saying, and how are they sounding—and what influence can the speechwriting community exert?
- We’ll hear about the state of European dialogue from a panel of international speechwriters led by Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart, speechwriter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
- And prominent Washington speechwriters Mary Kate Cary (Bush 41), David Kusnet (Clinton) and Lindsay Hayes (Sarah Palin, Romney 2012) will people a panel moderated by Robert Schlesinger and Jean Card, the hosts of the podcast about polite political dialogue, Bipodisan. All to discuss the state and the future of political rhetoric around the world and in America in this most unsettled time.
1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
The Long View of Leadership Communication
Before today we’ll have applied our intellects, restocked our communication tool chests, vented our spleens. Now let’s fill our souls with deep purpose, deep feeling and faith in the future.
- The rhetorically learned U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black issues a moral call to speechwriters of all political stripes, in every sector to use their most powerful human tool—responsible communication—to bind wounds, to build consensus, to create constructive conversation and to heal a society. We’ll hold fierce to his closing keynote, “Responsible Rhetoric: A Moral Issue and a Social Survival Strategy.”
- PSA executive director David Murray will do a short reading from his forthcoming book, An Effort to Understand.
- And then musical rhetoricians Mette Hojen and Jonas Wiik will play us out with a literal grace note, from their “Work in Tune” program that demonstrates what music can teach writers and leaders about the deepest kind of communication.
Among Friends—Closing Cocktail Party
In the States, it’s happy hour, or close enough for a Friday. In Europe, it’s evening. And in Asia-Pacific, it’s Saturday morning! Everyone’s allowed, and encouraged, to build a cocktail and let your hair down. We’ll toast the Cicero Speechwriting Award winners as we traditionally do, and then send you on a virtual Washington pub crawl, to find old friends or make new acquaintances, in happy palavers at virtual versions of The Tombs, The Bulldog Tavern, Clyde’s, Martin’s Tavern or the Old Ebbitt Grill.
Founded in 2014, Disruption Books is an independent publisher focused on nonfiction thought leadership. We publish innovative nonfiction that will start conversations, shift perspectives, and influence outcomes. Our books present big ideas from leaders in diverse fields such as politics, philanthropy, business, and activism. We seek authors who are looking to shake things up.
Gotham stands alone as the first and last word in ghostwriting—a one-stop solution for any author or speaker looking for help telling and selling a story. Whether they’re working on a big-think book, speech, article, memoir, corporate or family history, cookbook, or screenplay, our clients all have one thing in common—they’ve found the right partner for their project.
FAQ—How Does a Virtual Conference Work, Exactly?
What is a virtual conference?
The Professional Speechwriters Association seeks to make this remote-learning conference as interactive and convivial as its beloved in-person event held annually at Georgetown University in D.C. Through innovative tech and the most thoughtful planning, World Conference participants will come away from this event with the professional knowledge they need and the feeling of belonging that the conference has become known for.
How do the “Among Friends” networking sessions work, exactly?
Pretty much the way networking goes at the in-person conference. You walk into a virtual “room,” you see who’s sitting at virtual “tables,” you ascertain what the people at the tables are talking about, and you decide where to “sit.”
Can several people from my company login to the virtual conference at the same time?
No. This event is restricted to only one login, so only one computer can be connected to the webcast at any time. You can have multiple people in a room viewing the virtual conference, but not multiple people watching from their individual computers.
What if I miss a part of the conference?
Links to all sessions are available a day or two after the session, and viewable anytime between the conference and the end of the calendar year, 2020.
No refunds on cancellations less than 30 days before the event. Within 30 days, your payment will be credited toward a future Professional Speechwriters Association event.
$665 2020 PSA World Conference, October 20-23: Early Bird Registration
($498 for members of the Professional Speechwriters Association. Discount is automatically applied to cart when current members are logged in.)
$295 Preconference Workshop on October 19
($221 for members of the Professional Speechwriters Association. Discount is automatically applied to cart when current members are logged in.)
Phone registrations please call 312-585-6383.
Credentials to access the event will be sent the week of October 12.
$295.00 – $665.00