Leadership requires effective and inspiring communication, often in public. It’s a vital part of a leader’s job—and for many, the most difficult. And the only task tougher than delivering effective speeches is writing them.

No wonder speechwriting is one of the most sought-after and well-compensated communication specialties. Simply put, speeches matter—especially at a moment when leadership communication is helping guide institutions through one of the most fraught periods in modern history.

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, convened by the Professional Speechwriters Association and taught by some of the best speechwriters, and speechwriting teachers, in the world.

In the course of one intensive, rich and entertaining day of learning, an all-star faculty will transform you into a leadership communicator. 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 dean Eric Schnure 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.

8:15-9:30 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 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.

9:45-10:45 a.m. – Structure: If You Build It, They Will Act

You’ll learn Monroe’s Motivated Sequence—a structure that works for pretty much every speech—from veteran White House speechwriter, legendary rhetoric teacher and Speechwriting School dean Eric Schnure. 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.-12:00 p.m. – Making the Case: How to Support Your Argument, Credibly and Compellingly

You have a theme, you know your structure, you know the story you want to tell. But what gives the body of the speech the muscle to move an audience? In this session, with speechwriting superstar Felicity Barber, 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.

Noon-1:00 p.m. – Lunch, and Speechwriter Sit-Down: Essential Real World Tips for Speechwriters

Grab some food and hang on as veteran speechwriters give you quick, easy-to-implement, and essential real-world tips from their personal school of hard knocks. This round-robin format is a ‘don’t-miss’ opportunity to learn valuable insights.

1:15-2:15 p.m. – Storytelling for Speechwriters: How to Make Your Speeches Sing

Speechwriting School dean Eric Schnure 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.

2:30-3:30 p.m. – Editing: Secrets Every Speechwriter Should Know

One of Speechwriting School’s original Founders, 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.

3:45-4:45 p.m. – Candid Career Conversation with the Speechwriting School Faculty

Now that you’ve learned how to conceive, structure, write and edit a compelling speech expertly and efficiently—well, you still have a lot of questions: Can ChatGPT and other AI tools make your writing process more efficient and your speeches more effective? How do you get access to your busy speaker, and how do you make the most of those precious minutes? How do you defend the audience against your well-meaning colleagues who want to lard up your elegant draft with items from their own agenda? How do you convince a reticent speaker to truly communicate with an audience? And how do you know when a speech has succeeded? This is your chance to ask the faculty any question that’s on your mind. Tell us how we can help you become a better communicator and speechwriter before you pick up your certificate and depart for the day.

4:45 p.m. – Pick up Speechwriting School certificate, and adjourn.


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.

Fletcher Dean

Fletcher Dean

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.

 Rosemary King

Rosemary King

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.

David Murray

David Murray

David Murray is executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association, and editor & publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day, an 88-year-old collection of the best oral communication in the U.S. and the world. He’s author of the communication manifesto, An Effort to Understand: Hearing One Another (and Ourselves) in a Nation Cracked in Half.

Eric Schnure

Eric Schnure

Eric Schnure is a renowned 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 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, 2019).


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 Speechwriting School 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 limited room blocks at the two hotels listed below. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of September 20, 2024, or once these discounted room blocks are sold out.

The Georgetown Inn, a historic boutique hotel a short walk from our meeting space on campus. The rate is $319 USD per night. To register under the room block, please call (202) 333-8900 and reference the Professional Speechwriters Association.

Glover Park Hotel Georgetown, a contemporary and comfortable hotel option within a 5-minute Uber ride to the Georgetown campus. The rate is $209 USD per night. To register under the room block, please click here.

If you find the hotels listed above can no longer accommodate the nights you need, Georgetown University recommends several other options near campus. Have a look.


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.


Cancellations Policy

No refunds on cancellations less than 30 days before the start of event. Within 30 days, your payment will be credited toward a future Vital Speeches or Professional Speechwriters Association event. 

$995 to attend Speechwriting School on Monday, October 21, 2024 and a 6-month introductory membership to the Professional Speechwriters Association, commencing in November 2024.

$746.25 for members of the Professional Speechwriters Association (discount will show in checkout when logged in).

Phone registrations please call 312-585-6383

Registration deadline = October 14, 2024