Many speechwriters who have come to rely on the Professional Speechwriters Association as a sturdy, steady source of professional development, advocacy and global networking would be surprised to know that 10 years ago, the PSA didn’t even exist.

At a celebratory 10th annual World Conference, we’ll look back at the speechwriting scene a decade ago—not in self-congratulation, but in serious contemplation of the future. As PSA Advisory Councilor Boe Workman quoted Winston Churchill in a speech last year, “The further back you look, the further ahead you can see.”

At this conference, we’ll talk about the crucial role of speechwriters and leadership communicators in bridging deep cultural divides. We’ll talk about “the new sound of power,” and how speechwriters can support a wider variety of leaders in a broadened spectrum of communication styles. We’ll talk ChatGPT, and how speechwriters can make the technology work for them, so it doesn’t work against them.

And we’ll remember together that, though the PSA might still be young—and the speechwriter’s daily work product might be changing—the basic role that speechwriters play is essential to healthy institutions, civic life and civilized society.

Come, join us.


(All Times ET)


Preconference Workshops (Optional, But Included in All-Access Pass)

Workshop A (9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.)

Women Leadership Communicators, and the New Sound of Power

The prevalence of women in executive communications has increased dramatically in the 10 years since the first PSA World Conference. But women in this business report higher levels of dissatisfaction than their male counterparts, frequently citing burnout and feelings of powerlessness as reasons for questioning their career choice.

“Everyone says ‘find your voice,’” says Samara Bay, author of the new bestseller Permission to Speak: How to Change What Power Sounds Like, “but we don’t talk enough about why these voices have gone missing.”

For women in exec comms, and men who want to be better colleagues, this pre-conference workshop is conducted by Bay and facilitated by star speechwriter and PSA Advisory Councilor Felicity Barber. In a safe environment, you will learn to find your own voice and take the power you need to do your job more effectively, more sustainably and more happily:

  • With clients and colleagues, finding the right balance between projecting strength and warmth—between the nurturing “I got you” reassurance with the commanding, “I got this” assertion.
  • How to build on your persuasive strengths, identifying the aspects of your voice that you love and determining which ones might no longer serve you.
  • How to make and model the new sound of power in every aspect of your work—including the leadership communication content you create.

Workshop B: (1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Rhetoric Masterclass: How to Use Ancient Magic to Solve New Communication Problems

Rhetoric to speechwriters is a bit like “The Force” to Jedi—this metaphysical and ubiquitous “thing” that both guides us ethically on the one hand, and allows us to do mind-bending tricks on the other. In this session, we are going to look at those tricks: the most powerful and effective rhetorical features that you can apply to your speeches to make them dramatically better right away. 

The workshop will be led by Guy Doza, author of the bestselling book, How to Apologise for Killing a Cat: Rhetoric and the Art of Persuasion. A star speechwriter as well as a rhetoric scholar, Doza transforms speechwriters into powerful persuaders. (And responsible ones, too.)

During the session, you will: 

  • Learn the secrets of rhetorical schemes—the ordering of words and sounds to enhance meaning.
  • Master the art of linguistic tropes: the meaning behind them, and the profound effect they can have.
  • Apply the art of improvespecially when scripted.
  • Learn the canons of modern persuasion, and how to each of them apply to your daily work.
  • Inspect the foundations of speech structure. Does Cicero’s structure still stand in the modern world of social media? 

The furthest thing from a theoretical discussion—this is an intensely practical workshop which aims to leave you itching to get started on your next speech. Itching, and permanently edified. Whether you’re new to speechwriting or a seasoned professional, you’ll probably never practice rhetoric the same way again.


8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. • Breakfast and Conversation

9:00-9:15 • Opening remarks by PSA Executive Director David Murray, on the 10th Anniversary of the First PSA World Conference

9:15-10:30 • A Communicator First, a Politician Second and a Communicator Once Again: A Keynote Conversation with Former Congresswoman Cheri Bustos

Twelve years ago, Cheri Bustos left her job as vice president of communications and PR at a big state health system, and ran for Congress as a Democrat in a decidedly red district in Illinois: the Quad Cities, Rockford, Peoria. And she won. And then, in the middle of the Trump term, she won again. How on earth did a Democrat play so well in Peoria—and become a much-lauded model of an elected official who could operate and succeed in this terribly divided time? Largely, by using the skills she learned as a communicator (and a reporter, before that). In a speech and conversation, Bustos will share the leadership communication lessons she learned in a decade in public office—and how she’s applying them now that she’s back in the communication business, with us.

10:30-11:00 • Candid Collegial Conversations.

11:00-12:00 • An All-Conference Caucus, on ChatGPT: You Can’t Beat It If You Don’t Join It

You want to be better than the speechwriters who are faster than you, and faster than the speechwriters who are better than you. AI composition tools can help you do both, say our tech-sanguine panelists, veteran independent speechwriter Cheril Clarke, and Boston mayoral speechwriter Ezra Zwaeli. They’ll lead an all-conference discussion on how speechwriters can use ChatGPT and other programs to their own competitive advantage. And, how speechwriters can learn how to make the kinds of professional contributions that AI tools will never touch.

12:00 p.m.-12:45 p.m. • Lunch with Industry Colleagues.

Scribe, find your tribe—at labeled tables full of colleagues from specific sectors in business, government, nonprofit, university and independent speechwriting.

12:45-1:15 • Speechwriter, Spiel Thyself! A Crowdsourcing Idea Frenzy

One-minute work hacks, from the only other people in the world who do what you do. If you had one hard-earned tip to share with your speechwriting colleagues, what would it be? Every participant is encouraged to share.

1:15-1:30 • Break

1:30-4:00 • Breakout Sessions, for Your Craft & Career: Six Sessions in Two Tracks


Craft Track: Ethos Is Your Business Too: What’s the Speechwriter’s Role in Framing a Speaker’s Character for Every Audience?

Speechwriters know it’s up to them to build speeches with rigorous logos and powerful pathos, but they tend to think of ethos as being mostly something the speaker brings to the table. No! says Guy Doza, veteran speechwriter and author of the best-selling new book, How to Apologize for Killing a Cat: Rhetoric and the Art of Persuasion. In this session, you’ll learn just how much agency a speechwriter actually has in the multifaceted art of properly framing and communicating a speaker’s ethos. 

Career Track: The Intentional Speechwriter: How to Become the Master of Your Own Career By Always Asking Why, and What’s Next

You may have fallen into a career in speechwriting, but you don’t have to fall through it. Walmart’s senior director of executive communications Jerry Wohletz argues that speechwriters should use the same skills they use to capture the essence of a company, a strategy or a principal to listen to the voice inside themselves. In this session, you’ll hear how one speechwriter has channeled curiosity, a love of storytelling, and a desire to change the world into a successful, happy and ever-evolving career in speechwriting. And you’ll explore how listening to your own instincts can unlock possibility in unexpected and unusual ways, for you.


Craft Track: More Powerful Than a Personal Origin Story—Cultural Progress, Personally Narrated

Personal anecdotes connecting the speaker to the audience and the moment: Speechwriters beg for them, and speakers often resist. Christopher Huntley has a better idea: How about having your speaker project her or his humanity outward, and use the speech to precisely and passionately tell stories of major social movements that demonstrate what’s possible when ordinary people unite to beat the odds and build economic and political power? Explicating four marquee speeches that he developed during the 2020 presidential cycle, the veteran political speechwriter will show you how to tell the story of a movement in a speech—and the powerful effect it can have, for the leader, for the audience, for the cause and for the culture.

Career Track: Valedictory Remarks: Hard-Won Lessons in the Speechwriter’s Life

Newly retired (but not exactly, as he’ll explain)—star speechwriter Mike Field looks back at more than three decades of writing speeches for leaders across the business and nonprofit sector—including no fewer than seven successive university presidents at two institutions—to offer insights and advice on managing, and sometimes just riding with, your career. When to stay, when to go, and how to say no, all the while staying fresh and relevant in what you do. Mike will address these questions—and your questions and career observations of your own—in this interactive session.


Craft Track: The Message-Messenger-Medium-Moment Martini—How Make Statements that Leave Your Audience Not Shaken But Stirred 

Like so many speechwriters to high-profile leaders, in her work with three successive MIT presidents, Martha Eddison has tested countless recipes for responding to campus controversies, societal crises and groups clamoring for statements from the top. Recognizing that we’ve all had too many refills of the Heartfelt Presidential Letter, Eddison introduces us to something potent and new, inspired by the qualities and instincts of her new boss, MIT President Sally Kornbluth. Kornbluth responded to a campus controversy earlier this year with an unrehearsed, made-at-home-on-Sunday smart phone video that hit the spot—and offered a timely, refreshing, personal take on the oversupply of presidential communications. “I have concerns about sending message after message after message,” Kornbluth said, “because the meaning of these messages becomes diluted.” Eddison is excited to add this new approach to the mix—and eager to engage in conversation about the philosophy and practice of statement-making today.

Career Track: The Soul of the Speechwriter

Over the past decade or two, speechwriters have been asked to be more than speechwriters: exec comms strategists, personal branding consultants, presentation coaches. But in the process, some of us have become less than speechwriters—have lost an essential literary, liberal arts perspective that reminds the organization and its leaders and their audiences of the highest human purpose of the enterprise. So worries veteran exec comms pro Tom Schmitz, who calls for some separation, or at least thoughtful insulation, between the necessarily pragmatic leaders who now direct first-class exec comms groups, and the speechwriter, who must be allowed to dream, a little. Join Tom, in a conversation about the soul of the speechwriter.

3:50-4:00 • Reconvene in Fisher Colloquium

4:00-5:00Day-Closing Keynote: Broadening the Frequency Band: Speechwriting, and the New Sound of Power

From John F. Kennedy to Stephen Colbert: We’ve all grown up hearing a certain kind of voice that represents command and conviction: It’s our experts and anchors and leaders and heroes. It’s the voice standard, and whoever you’re writing for, it’s the sound you’re usually going for. But increasingly, speechwriters are writing for more “non-standard” speakers: women, people of color, leaders who are LGBTQ, non-native speakers and men who just don’t sound like everybody else. Are we sure we’re serving them well with the same speechwriting style we’ve traditionally used? Samara Bay is pretty sure we’re not. The Hollywood voice coach and CEO speech whisperer and author of the new bestseller, Permission to Speak: How to Change What Power Sounds Like, will teach you how to capture your speaker’s authentic voice even if it’s nontraditional, how to take powerful advantage of its strengths—and how to become a more versatile speechwriter in the process. (And the PSA has purchased a copy of the book for every in-person World Conference participant.)

5:00-6:30 • Drink Together, Think Together, Clink Together: Cocktails with Your Colleagues, sponsored by the Cicero Speechwriting Awards. 

Under a patio tent that might be called the Cone of Silence, members of the Discretion Profession will swap stories, share laughs, drown sorrows and celebrate one another’s success as we toast the winners of the 2023 Cicero Speechwriting Awards. Perennially, one of the happiest moments of the speechwriting year.


8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. • Breakfast and Conversation

9:00-9:30 • Survey Report: How Has the Speechwriter’s Job Changed Over the Last Decade, and What Changes Loom in the Next?

Ten years ago, we asked speechwriters a set of questions about the nature of their work, and their job satisfaction, and got some fascinating results. Ten years later, we posed the same questions. Here’s what you said. Now, what are we going to do about it? PSA Founder and Executive Director David Murray leads the discussion.

9:30-10:30 • All-Conference Caucus: The History of Speechwriting, the Future of Speechwriting

We’ll listen and react to several mini-talks on the evolution of thought leadership, practical ways to continue diversity efforts, a novel brand of storytelling for the modern moment and developments in the nascent but fast-growing speechwriting industry in Africa—by longtime PSA members and friends Pete Weissman, Michael FranklinIsabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart and Dr. Letshwiti Tutwane, respectively. Come with your own thoughts on the future of this profession and what speechwriters can do to help shape it. Let’s get it all out there!


10:45-11:00 • Closing Remarks by David Murray

11:00-12:00 • Locknote Address: Everything I Know About Rhetoric, I Poured Into the Most Important Speech I Ever Wrote (My Father’s Eulogy)

Jens Kjeldsen is one of Europe’s leading authorities of rhetoric, a celebrated professor at the University of Bergen (Norway), and author of many books and scholarly articles. When his father died and it fell to him to give the eulogy, Kjeldsen knew he wanted to be authentic. But he wanted to be strategic, too—wanted his speech to have a particular and profound effect on its audience. Being a rhetorician and being a bereaved are very different perspectives. When you are a human paying the last farewell, the rhetorical rules take on a new meaning. You are forced to think through both rhetoric and life. Kjeldsen will close out this 10th annual World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association with a deep—and deeply personal—meditation on the ultimate purpose of rhetoric in our lives.



Felicity Barber

Felicity Barber

Felicity Barber has been writing speeches and managing executive communications for CEOs in finance for more than a decade, including the leaders of BlackRock, Lloyd’s of London, and two Federal Reserve banks. She now runs her own business Thoughtful Comms, supporting clients with executive communications and speeches, and training the next generation of speechwriting talent. She hails from London, but home is Weehawken, NJ, where she lives with her husband, her two children, and a black cat called Minton.

Samara Bay

Samara Bay

Samara Bay is author of Permission to Speak: How to Change What Power Sounds Like, Starting With You. She coaches rising business leaders, political hopefuls, and public figures who need to speak in a voice they recognize as their own to truly make waves. She runs workshops and speaks at organizations around the world to support a new, diverse sound of power. In Hollywood, she helps movie stars integrate good acting with good accents, and has coached clients including Gal Gadot, Pierce Brosnan, Penélope Cruz, Ricky Martin, Terry Crews, Rachel McAdams, Ruth Negga, and Anjelica Huston. She has a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from Brown University. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and dog, Moxie.

Cheri Bustos

Cheri Bustos

Cheri Bustos has never lost an election. Seven straight. Two for City Council. Five for Congress. And in one of the toughest swing districts in America. She even won by the largest majority of any Democrat in a Trump District. She believes to her core in coming together, compromise and bipartisanship — while staying true to key values. She sees it as the only way forward. While in Congress, Cheri became known in Congress for her innovative communication style that included an outreach program called “Cheri on Shift,” where she job-shadowed hard working men and women. She worked 120 separate jobs—from processing Mississippi River fish to changing street lights from a 30-foot tall cherry picker. Cheri was a journalist for almost two decades before going on to lead corporate communications for a multi-billion dollar nonprofit health system. Bustos is now co-chair of Mercury Global Public Affairs’ Washington, D.C., office and head of the firm’s Illinois and Midwestern operations. She is a Spring 2023 Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

Cheril Clarke

Cheril Clarke

Cheril Clarke is a multi-faceted writer whose work encompasses a unique blend of creative and business writing. She began her career 20+ years ago as a novelist, poet and playwright. Now, Clarke is the Founder of Phenomenal Writing, an executive communications agency that provides speech and ghostwriting services to executives and entrepreneurs worldwide. Her clients have included GE, UPS, Cox Enterprises, University of Wisconsin-Madison, AmeriHealth Caritas, City National Bank and more. She has been featured in The Philadelphia Women’s Journal, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Washington Post and many other publications. Learn more at PhenomenalWriting.com.

Guy Doza

Guy Doza

Coming from Cambridge, UK (yes, the real one…) Guy Doza is a speechwriter, author and public affairs consultant. From the Government of Kazakhstan to the International Criminal Court, Guy has worked with a range of corporate, political and academic organisations. As well as writing them for his clients, Guy gave his own TEDxTalk back in 2019. He is the author of How to Apologise for Killing a Cat: Rhetoric and the Art of Persuasion.

Martha Eddison

Martha Eddison

Martha Eddison is Special Assistant & Senior Communications Advisor to the President, MIT. Since 2007, Martha has served as the principal writer and a strategic communications advisor to three successive presidents of MIT—Susan Hockfield, Rafael Reif and now Sally Kornbluth. She began her speechwriting career in politics, heading the speech office of the late New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo. Later, while raising three young children, she spent nine years as a freelancer writer, bringing wit, rigor, clarity and delight to fundraising and admissions materials for clients that included Brown, Harvard Medical School, MIT, Tufts, Williams and Yale. A longtime resident of the knock-off Cambridge, in Massachusetts, Martha graduated from a certain local university known for its exalted sense of self-regard. The proud owner of a BA in English, she left college thinking she would be a costume designer and eventually made the shift to speechwriting—not so far apart after all.

Mike Field

Mike Field

When Mike Field found himself in the middle of the first riot to occur in Auckland, New Zealand, since the food riots of the Great Depression, he grabbed a phone, called the editor of the New Zealand Herald, and the next morning launched his journalism career on page 1. Find the story and get there first has been his imperative ever since. For three decades he has guided business and non-profit leaders to telling their stories with an eye to page 1. Much of his career was spent in higher education, first at the Johns Hopkins University and more recently as senior advisor to University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann, the longest-serving woman president in the Ivy League. Mike lives in Baltimore and of course loves the Orioles.

Christopher Huntley

Christopher Huntley

Christopher Huntley thrives at the intersection of politics and communications, weaving pop culture, storytelling, and social justice together to transform complex policy issues into relatable stories. Driven by a passion for inspiring and persuading audiences, he has partnered with some of the nation’s foremost political minds to develop narrative strategies in the fight for social, racial, and economic justice including: Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Rev. Leah Daughtry, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Senator Harry Reid, Symone Townsend- Sanders, the Progressive Caucus Action Fund and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Jens E. Kjeldsen

Jens E. Kjeldsen

Jens E. Kjeldsen is a professor of rhetoric at the University of Bergen, Norway. He has published extensively on rhetoric both in scientific journals and in popular news outlets and magazines. He is also a frequent commentator in the media. Among his many publications are the books Speechwriting in Theory and Practice and Rhetorical Audience Studies. For more than 20 years he has combined his work as a researcher with communication consultancy work, CEO-coaching, and given courses in rhetoric, speechwriting, and communication. Kjeldsen is the initiation and immediate past president of The Rhetoric Society of Europe, the founder and former chief editor of the research journal Rhetorica Scandinavia, and the founder and leader of “Seize the Word,” a national Norwegian speaking competition for young adults.

David Murray

David Murray

David Murray is founder and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association and the Executive Communication Council. He is an award-winning journalist and is editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day, one of the world’s longest continuously published magazines. Murray is author of several books, including this year’s communication blockbuster, An Effort to Understand: Hearing One Another (and Ourselves) in a Nation Cracked in Half (Disruption Books, 2021). He lives with his wife Cristie Bosch and daughter Scout Murray, in Chicago.

Tom Schmitz

Tom Schmitz

Tom Schmitz is a veteran executive communication professional whose previous stints include Staff VP and Executive Speechwriter at Centene Corporation, Principal, Executive Communications at Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Senior Communications Consultant at Kaiser Permanente. Tom began his career as a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News.

Jerry Wohletz

Jerry Wohletz

Jerry Wohletz is Senior Director of Executive Communications at Walmart where he’s head of speechwriting for Doug McMillon, the company’s president and CEO. He also leads a team of speechwriters who support Walmart’s CFO, CPO and CTO, among others. Previously, he was speechwriter to the CEO of Walmart International. Before joining Walmart in 2019, Jerry held speechwriting and communications roles in the healthcare and education industries in Chicago, D.C. and Rochester, New York. He got started in communications while working on his family’s Kansas farm, where his strategic approach helped grow 6 tomato plants into a thriving local agritourism business.

Ezra Zwaeli

Ezra Zwaeli

Ezra Zwaeli is a speechwriter, poet, and essayist exploring the ways that language can shift perspectives, shape policies, and produce more equitable outcomes for all of us. His approach to this work is informed by his experience as the mixed-race child of a queer parent and a first-generation immigrant parent. Ezra currently serves as Director of Speechwriting for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu—the first woman, first Millennial, and first person of color elected to the office. Previously, Ezra was a Director at the speechwriting and strategy firm West Wing Writers.


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.

Speechwriters of Color is a community of expert and aspiring communicators across the world founded in 2020 to change the face of professional speechwriting by supporting, empowering, and building community among communicators of color. We write for leaders at every level of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, from local organizers to heads of state. Not all of us have the word speechwriter in our job title, but we all utilize the power of writing to make a difference. You might never have heard our names—but you’ve certainly heard our words.


Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business
Rafik B. Hariri Building
Georgetown University
37th and O St., N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 687-0100

Please note: Parking on campus is limited, and we strongly recommend visitors travel to the conference by taxi or rideshare. In any case, DO NOT use the Georgetown University address, as it will navigate to the front gates across campus. Uber, Lyft, and Google Maps all recognize “McDonough School of Business Rafik B. Hariri Building” if you type that name directly into the apps. Here is a link to more detailed information, a campus map, and parking instructions should you need them. Public transportation and shuttle options are also available, but less convenient. Once in the building, we’ll be on the fourth floor, in Fisher Colloquium.


The PSA has secured a limited room block at the The Georgetown Inn, a historic boutique hotel a short walk from our meeting space on campus. To register under the room block, please call (202) 333-8900 and reference the Professional Speechwriters Association. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of September 15, 2023, or once the discounted room block is sold out.

If you find the hotel 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 taxi or rideshare, 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.


Local attendees parking on campus will need to pay to park in the Southwest Garage, which is accessed by entering campus via the Canal Road entrance off of M Street (use 3611 Canal Road as the address for directions using GPS). To get to the Hariri Building from the garage, exit the garage through the North exit and walk around the football field to the stone-faced building on the other side of the field. Here is a link to more detailed information, a campus map, and parking instructions should you need them.


The World Conference is in person this year, but is there a virtual version?

Yes, you may register for a virtual version of the conference, and access all conference sessions live online. You’ll be able to participate in Q&A sessions with speakers. And there will be Zoom networking groups, to have the same discussions with fellow virtual participants that in-person participants are having in the room.

Can several people from my company log in 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.

Will the virtual sessions be recorded, so that I can view them later?

Yes indeed. Links to all session recordings are available the week after the conference, and viewable anytime until the end of the calendar year, 2023.


Cancellations Policy
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.


Members of the Professional Speechwriters Association receive a 25% discount on all registration products (discount is automatically applied to the cart when current members are logged in.)

Phone registrations please call 312-585-6383.


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