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 humanity? 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 AARP’s National Office in Washington D.C., and taught by seven 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?).

Hundreds of working speechwriters have learned their chops at Speechwriting School, and they rave about the experience. “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

08:00-8:15 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.

8:15-9:30 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.

9:30 a.m. – Break

9:45-noon – 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. 

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.

1:00-2:15 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.

2:15-3:00 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.

3:00 p.m. – Break

3:15-4:00 p.m. – Coaching for the Speaker and Writer

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. You’ll learn how to become an essential partner to your speaker even as you elevate and define your own unique role. You’ll learn how to gain your speaker’s respect and confidence in a way that moves you beyond ‘trusty scribe’ to trusted advisor. 

4:00-5:00 p.m. – Final Question-and-Answer

We adjourn the day with an opportunity for you to turn the tables and 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.


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.

 Bob Lehrman

Bob Lehrman

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 and teaches at American University. He is the co-author, along with Eric Schnure, of The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, 2nd Ed. (SAGE, August 2019).

Mike Long

Mike Long

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. Mike is also the co-author of the new book, The Molecule of More.

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 an independent leadership communication 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 Johns Hopkins 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).

Lucinda Trew

Lucinda Trew

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.



AARP’s National Office
601 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20049


The PSA has secured a limited room block at the Hampton Inn Convention Center, a short nine-minute walk to our conference space at AARP’s National Office. To reserve under the room block, please click here to book online or call 202-842-2500 and reference “Professional Speechwriters”. We cannot guarantee room availability after the cut-off date of Saturday, September 10, 2022, or once the discounted room block is sold out.


From Reagan National Airport, AARP’s National Office and the Hampton Inn Convention Center are conveniently reached by cab or car, and economically reached by taking the Metro.

Chinatown/Gallery Place 
(Red, Yellow & Green Lines) 
630 H St NW 
Washington, D.C. 20001


Parking is available in nearby pay-to-park garages—both underneath the AARP offices at 601 E Street – LAZ Parking, and directly across the street at 600 E St NW – ParkChirp.


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. 

Speechwriting School registration closes on Tuesday, October 4.

$995 to attend the training on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 and a 6-month introductory membership to the Professional Speechwriters Association, commencing in November 2022.

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

Phone registrations please call 312-585-6383


Important Note:

By attending Speechwriting School, all attendees must follow the COVID-19 Safety Protocols put in place by the host location, AARP, at the time of the event.  AARP’s current protocol, which is subject to change, is described below.

AARP is committed to providing a safe environment in all of their facilities. AARP currently requires all visitors to use CLEAR Health Pass to complete a daily health screening and provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or link a recent negative COVID-19 test result before entering any AARP location.

CLEAR Health Pass provides secure, digital proof of COVID-related health insights via a free mobile app.  Any updated protocols and details on how to download and access the CLEAR app will be shared with registered attendees in advance of the event.

*Please note, AARP does not view or collect your health information. CLEAR follows all HIPPA standards.