Professional Speechwriters Association

The Professional Speechwriters Association’s

Strategic Speechwriting: The Method and the Art, with Mike Long

Oct 01 - 02 | Washington, DC


Hosted by Professional Speechwriting Association


Are your speeches getting things done?

A speech consumes the precious bandwidth of the communicator who writes it, and the pricey time of the leader who delivers it (not to mention the audience who hears it).

Are you sure your speeches are justifying their cost? Are they strongly connecting your leader to key constituencies, getting a point of view across personally and powerfully and achieving important objectives for the organization?

Professional Speechwriters Association resident writing coach Mike Long believes speeches don’t have to be this hard to write, and they ought to be more fun to deliver—and more effective, in the end.

In an intensive, interactive and vastly entertaining two-day seminar, Long—one of the most popular speechwriting teachers of all time—will teach strategic speechwriting, the method and the art.

OUR GUARANTEE: After two days with Mike Long, you won’t walk, you’ll run back to the office, eager to apply these advanced techniques and artistic insights of strategic speechwriting to your next assignment, to show your unsuspecting leader a whole new realm of possibilities.




Think Before You Write: A Speechwriter’s Guide to Planning and Prep

You wouldn’t set sail without a map for getting to the island—and to create a professional speech that finds its mark, you need a map, too.

  • Out of Disorder, Order: How to carve a path for writing through a jungle of conflicting demands, unwieldy topics, and too many cooks in the kitchen
  • What in The World Are You Talking About: Clarify the reason for the speech by figuring out the “big takeaway”
  • The Jenga Problem: Using structure to build a compelling speech
  • E Pluribus Unum, In Reverse: How to “get to yes” with the audience by transforming one big argument into several smaller ones
  • Want to transform a typical talk into unforgettable event? Study the location!
  • Herding Cats: How to keep gatekeepers and unhelpful “helpers” happy from the start, and stop them from derailing the speechwriting process

Noon-1:30pm Break for Lunch


Vital Elements of a Vital Speech: Openings That Demand Attention and Closes That Demand Action

For a speech to connect with an audience and keep them engaged, the opening must make them want to hear more, and the closing must send them away inspired to take action. Professional speechwriters don’t guess at how to do that.

  • The four elements every speech opening must have—no exceptions
  • The Perfect Beginning: Use tension to make the audience need to pay attention
  • The Mechanics of Making Them Listen: The audience’s main worry, and how to relieve it to gain their trust
  • Find out the end-of-speech secret that will give your speaker an advantage over everyone else on the dais
  • Emotion Drives Action: How to write a closing that uses emotion to compel an audience to get up and do something

How to Make Numbers Fascinating Even If You’re No Good at Math

Learn easy-to-master skills to make statistics memorable, persuasive, and even fascinating.

  • The Federal Budget Versus the Price of Your House: Humanize figures so audiences remember more—and feel it in their hearts, not just know it in their heads
  • Bullying with Numbers: Why it’s so tempting, why it fails, and how to avoid doing it yourself
  • How to Do Math Without Knowing Any: Using simple fractions and percentages to explain almost anything, no matter how complicated

Persuasion: Proven Techniques to Open Minds and Change Them

Facts and figures engage the intellect, but persuasion must also speak to the heart. Here’s how to use psychology, classical rhetoric, and the best ideas from marketing to get people to open their minds to your ideas.

  • “Nobody won an argument by starting with Hey, stupid!” 
  • Socrates Writes a Speech: How the basics of your long-forgotten college rhetoric class make writing easier in the 21st century
  • First Ask Little, Second Ask Big and other lessons from the marketing laboratory
  • Revealed: A failsafe speech model created before your great grandfather was born



Using Tension, Granting Release: Storytelling and the Psychology of What Makes an Audience Listen

Listening is hard, and it’s the speaker’s job, not the listener’s, to maintain interest. How to do it? The lessons extend from Star Wars to the scholarship of Carl Jung. We explore the practical and even biological forces smart writers leverage to keep their speakers at the center of attention.

  • Instinct, Not Choice: How to leverage the perpetual human desire for stories
  • The Hangover—and the real reason people pay attention
  • When Everything Changed: How MTV and Jaws transformed what audiences demand from speakers
  • The power of creating a hero “just like me”—and how to do it

How to Tell a Fascinating Story (and You Don’t Have to Be a Novelist to Do It)

Storytelling is more than character, situation, and “here’s what happened.” A great story creates compelling desire in the audience to know what comes next. Learn step-by-step method of “story beats” for telling a spellbinding tale that serves a strategic end.

  • Turning the hidden “knobs” of the story—and reaching the hearts of the audience
  • With a few well chosen words, create characters the audience will know, love, identify with—and even fear
  • How to find the stories that are already imparting lessons in your organization
  • Save the Cat: How the “Hollywood Method” of screenwriting transforms storytelling into a professional process every speechwriter can master

Noon-1:30pm • Break for Lunch


Literary Devices: How to Craft Moving Phrases and Find Beautiful Words

Whether it’s a story or an explanation, words matter, yet in the maw of myriad communication considerations, speechwriters often forget to use the intrinsic beauty of language.

  • From Casey at the Bat to Stayin’ Alive: Using rhythm and the sound of words to enhance the listeners’ experience
  • Forgotten Lessons From 8th Grade Composition: The practical utility of literary devices
  • What Do You Think? Using only your shouted suggestions, learn a can’t-miss trick to create can’t-forget metaphors on any topic
  • WWTWD: What would Tom Wolfe do? Call on the five senses to create worlds that audiences have never seen (or heard, or touched, or tasted…)

More Like a Poet: Lessons from Songwriting, TV, Stage, and Film

In this closing section we listen to songs from pop, Americana, and Broadway, and review scenes from film and stage to reveal the creative secrets of artists and entertainers. In this way we draw on the lessons of the two-day seminar by comparing our own ideas with compelling examples that connect the practical with the creative.

  • Why you don’t have to be an English professor to create a beautiful turn of phrase
  • Hamlet? Maybe. Breaking Bad? Absolutely! Creating emotion by connecting audiences to the canon of popular culture
  • Life is Like A Box of…: Great lines and speeches from movies and stage plays (and what makes them so)
  • It’s What You Don’t Say: The power of leaving things out


Meet Mike Long

Meet Mike Long

Mike Long is a speechwriter, playwright, and award-winning screenwriter based in Washington, D.C. He is a former director of the White House Writers Group, and served most recently as the director of writing for the graduate program in PR at Georgetown University. He has taught thousands of people how to write speeches. He’s author of the bestselling book, The Molecule of More.

He’s also a thrilling in structor, as his seminar participants attest:

“He was wonderful–cogent, insightful, and hilarious. I learned a lot.”

“Mike’s no-nonsense approach to writing is fantastic. He cuts through the fluff that so many writers get hung up on and provides practical, useful techniques that make his students better writers.”

“…has changed the entire trajectory of how I write and communicate.”

“Your teaching style really made class fun and entertaining.”

“Your advice is some of the best I’ve heard.”

“Before I took your class I had never written a speech, but now it is something that I am interested in doing professionally.”

“Mike has had a deep and lasting, positive, professional impact on my writing. I now think much more critically and analytically when it comes to my writing. Mike is influential.”

“Thank you for sharing your wicked sense of humor and your love of a great script!”

“He allowed me to ask questions, find humor in mistakes, and he armed me well professionally.”

“The opportunity to take his course is like striking gold.”

“The confidence I gained has been drawn on time and time again.”

“Seriously, a genius. Friggin’ amazing.”



Metro Offices, Dupont Circle
1250 Connecticut Ave.
Washington, DC 20036


Cost for Strategic Speechwriting is $1295 (for PSA members, $971.25).


Register Now

$1295 to attend "Strategic Speechwriting: The Method and the Art" on October 1 & 2, 2020.

$971.25 for members of the Professional Speechwriters Association (discount will show in checkout when logged in).

Phone registrations please call 312-585-6383

Cancellations Policy 

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