Oxford Speechwriters’ & Business Communicators’ Conference 2023
22 - 24 March 2023
You’re invited to the 21st UK Speechwriters’ Guild/European Speechwriter Network Conference.
Our conferences are open to people who write speeches in their organisations.
We’re especially popular with delegates who have to write in English, although it’s not their native language
We welcome advanced speechwriters, beginners and those interested in developing skills for the future.
You’ll meet colleagues who face the same challenges.
The European Speechwriter Network, working with the UK Speechwriters’ Guild, has pioneered a format where we listen to top speechwriters, leaders and interpreters talk about their work.
We learn what techniques they use, how they craft stories and how they build relationships. We host our conferences in a university environment, enabling speechwriters to exchange ideas, make contacts and build a reputation.
Who should attend?
Previous conferences in Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin have attracted speechwriters from four Prime Ministers’ offices, the European Commission, NATO, Airbus, BMW, IBM, the CBI, Orange, Deloitte, the United Nations, the European Investment Bank, Coca Cola as well as the Dutch, Danish and British civil service.
This conference is for anyone wanting to improve their ability to write and deliver speeches.
While the conference is predominantly in English, the techniques will be transferable to other languages.
It’s also for people wishing to improve their company’s ability to communicate ideas.
- Acquire techniques used in the White House, European institutions and and in numerous government and multinational offices around Europe
- Get insights into rhetoric from top writers
- Listen to outstanding public speakers
- Have your own work analysed in interactive sessions with top trainers
- Meet fellow professionals from Europe and the rest of the world
DAY 1 – Pre-conference Training
Wednesday 22 March – Delegates can choose from three pre-conference training workshops:
10.00am – 4.30pm – Lawrence McEnerney – White House Speeches: Reagan versus Obama
Click here for a more detailed summary of the workshop
10.00am – 4.30pm – Martin Shovel & Martha Leyton: Storytelling for Leaders
Click here for a more detailed summary of the workshop
10am – 4.30pm – Jim Holtje: The art and science of 21st century speechwriting
Click here to download a more detailed description
DAY 2 – Full Conference
Thursday 23 March – Conference takes place in the Amersi Room + Breakout Rooms in afternoon – 10am – 4.30pm
Speakers include: Jess Cunniffe, Dr James McCabe, Renée Broekmeulen
7.30pm – Conference Banquet
Enjoy a three-course banquet in Brasenose College dining hall.
Contact us if you would like to compete for the Fred Metcalf Memorial Trophy by delivering a 2-minute after-dinner speech.
DAY 3 – Conference continues
Friday 24 March – Amersi Room 10am – 12.30pm
Speakers include: David Murray, Åse Thomassen
12.30pm – Conference closes
1pm – Optional lunch in the Art Café, opposite Westgate Centre
2.00pm – Optional tour of the Oxford Union Debating Society
What you will learn and leave with
- A better understanding of what makes an effective speech
- Insights on how to work with multilingual audiences
- Tips for managing your speakers
- Strategies for dealing with interpreters
- New contacts, ideas and perspectives on the trade
Martin Shovel & Martha Leyton
Martha Leyton and Martin Shovel are speechwriters and communications coaches, who run a UK communications consultancy called CreativityWorks.
They write speeches for chief executives, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and lawyers. They also train speechwriters and other communications professionals.
Martin’s writing has appeared in many places, including the Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog and the Macmillan Dictionary blog, and he is also a prolific cartoonist and Twitter commentator (@martinshovel). He and Martha have also made several animated films, including the viral YouTube hit, Busting the Mehrabian Myth.
Jim is a CEO speechwriter, published author, and adjunct professor with extensive professional experience at multinationals and tech companies, including IBM, Siemens, MasterCard, and McGraw-Hill in the U.S. and overseas.
Jess Cunniffe MBE
Jessica has written speeches for over a decade. She was speechwriter to two prime ministers in 10 Downing Street, during which she penned David Cameron’s 2015 party conference address.
She went on to help write his bestselling memoir, For the Record. Today she writes for cabinet ministers, CEOs, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
Matt provides speechwriting support to the United Nations and other international organisations through his communications consultancy, Words Matter Ltd.
He also provides training and coaching to new and experienced speechwriters and comms professionals in Westminster, Wales and right around the world. He has years of experience in frontline politics, and government and worked as Chief Special Adviser in the Welsh Government. He also provided speechwriting support to Keir Starmer in his successful campaign to become Labour leader.
From her studies in French and English literature to her 15-year experience in communications, writing has always been at the heart of Marie’s career path. She’s been a CEO and C-level executive speechwriter for nearly a decade, in some of the biggest entertainment and tech companies in the world. The most fascinating part of her role is the endless learning curve and opportunity to dive into a wide array of topics ranging from brand strategy to diversity, inclusion and finance.
For more than fourteen years, Anita has written speeches for four Danish Prime Ministers. In 2021 she quit her dayjob at the Prime Minister’s Office to concentrate full-time on her career as a novelist.
Caspar is a former speechwriter for two Danish Prime Ministers, one Minister of Food and for the former CEO of Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank. He is currently head of communication in the Danish Patient Compensation Association.
David is founder and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association, and also the Executive Communication Council. He’s also editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, and author of the communicator’s manifesto, An Effort to Understand: Hearing One Another (and Ourselves) in a Nation Cracked in Half (Disruption Books, 2021).
Dr James McCabe
James is a pioneer of classical story design, which he promotes through his company The Story Doctor. He’s worked closely with scores of well-known names such as Siemens, Allianz, Sony and others.
He’s also worked as a script doctor for the film industry and collaborated with Hollywood star coach Robert McKee. He followed his Oxford literary doctorate with several decades of international engagement across borders, industries and functional silos from leadership and reputation to strategy, brand and culture.
James’ presentation will reveal how in the modern media environment empathy, suspense and surprise trump authority, argument and proof.
Renée is a speechwriter, author and trainer based in The Hague. Her book De Speechschrijver came out in 2022. It summarised the wisdom she accumulated working for over two decades as a speechwriter in the Netherlands. She has trained hundreds of Dutch professional speechwriters who now write for politicians, managers, mayors and CEO’s.
Renée is also one of the driving forces behind the active Dutch network ‘t Doode Paerdt and her own speechwriting clients include cabinet ministers and media magnates.
Ben is a speechwriter and communicator who currently works as a writer in the European Parliament, shaping the institution’s voice towards citizens. He has run workshops and taken part in discussion panels across the EU institutions and communications network in Brussels. He is also an accomplished award-winning poet and reviewer, with three full collections and work in numerous literary journals like The Poetry Review and Poetry Wales. He has performed his writing, mentored individuals and led poetry workshops across the UK, in venues from literature festivals and theatres to schools and libraries.
Äse is a Norwegian political scientist. She has written books on President Zelensky’s rhetoric. She will be doing presentation on what we can learn from the speeches of Greta Thunberg, and what the implications are for anyone writing speeches about climate change.
Alison has more than ten years’ experience in speechwriting and communications in higher education and government. She has collaborated with a member of the House of Lords, in the UK parliament, writing political speeches on education, employment and housing. She has particular interests in intercultural communication and spoken language, and has a Master’s degree in non-fiction creative writing.
Guy has a degree from Royal Holloway’s Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric. His research was focused on the application of classical rhetoric in modern speechwriting. He runs training courses for political writers in parliament. He has worked with a number of ministerial offices and trained Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and SNP speechwriters.
As well as his political work he has also written for a range of private clients ranging from executives at BP to academics at leading universities. Guy will be chairing the conference.
More speakers to be announced in the coming weeks…while we do our best to make sure all speakers on the programme will appear on the day, we cannot be responsible for any unforeseen cancellations.
If you want to get a feel for what the conference is like, this is the video of last year’s conference in Cambridge.
Plan your Visit
For an Early-Bird Residential Pre-Conference Training + Conference Pass (Wed, Thu & Fri), the cost is £1575 + VAT. For other prices please press the ‘Tickets’ button to pay by credit card through Eventbrite.
If you prefer for us to send you an invoice instead of paying through Eventbrite, please send an email and we will send you one. If you need to separate the costs into two invoices – one for training, the other for accommodation, we’re happy. Just email and ask.
We recommend you take rooms in Brasenose College to enjoy the ‘campus’ atmosphere of the conference. If you book early you can reserve one of the limited number of ‘ensuite’ rooms by sending us an email to request one. We will add you to a list and guarantee an ensuite room.
Some of the rooms are student rooms with a basin, but no ensuite toilet. But what you lose in convenience, you often gain from a view and Harry Potter charm.
If we’ve run out of ensuite rooms, you can buy tickets without accommodation and find a hotel elsewhere in Oxford.
Bookings will not be accepted unless accompanied by payment and cancellations must be received no later than one month (28 days) before the conference if a full refund is to be given.
Cancellations received within 2 to 4 weeks of the first date of conference will be refunded 50%. No refunds will be given for cancellations made within 14 days.
However, we are happy to discuss transferring your ticket to a future conference in the event that you can’t attend due to unforeseen circumstances.
Get to Oxford
Oxford is within easy reach of London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Birmingham International Airport.
If you arrive in the UK by Eurostar, there is a fast and frequent rail service from London Paddington.
Coaches leave Victoria coach station at frequent intervals.
There are a limited number of places available at a discount to people in full-time education who are considering a career in speechwriting. Details on application.
What they say about the conference
I just wanted to write and thank you for an amazing conference last week. It was a really good experience, both as a participant and speaker. And the lineup was really well chosen, both in terms of speakers and seminars. (The interactive seminar on improvisational theatre was amazing! 😊)
It was an inspiring few days – thank you. Every speaker was interesting and every session worthwhile. I can’t remember ever enjoying a conference or work-related seminar so much; it felt like being on a really fantastic holiday! Congratulations on putting together such a fascinating program and on uniting so many wonderful people.
I hope I will be able to attend another event soon and look forward to seeing you again there.
You’ve helped create an atmosphere of friendship, enthusiasm and mutual support among everyone. And what a fine bunch of people they all are.
Thanks for putting together the excellent conference in Cambridge. Interesting, inspiring and useful for all sorts of future networking of course.
Paul Hutchison, European Commission
Thank you for another wonderful conference in Cambridge.
Alison Reid, Teesside University
Congratulations for the well organised and in many ways great Cambridge conference! You have earned a couple of rest days.
Thank you for wonderful company and a wonderful conference.
Let me first thank you for a brilliant conference last week. Really valuable to participate and a fantastic motivator.
Douwe Miedema, European Stability Mechanism
Just coming down from the high of the Conference. Every year I say “It was the best ever”. Emotionally, I felt it was. Just loved Stephen’ s final keynote.
I also felt Guy was superb as the chair. Low key, humour, in control. I’m sure you’re thinking about asking him again.
Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for the week! It was a wonderful and well-curated series.
Tom Moylan, European Commission
Another superb conference. Brilliant line-up. Priceless insider tips. Presentations which ran from the intensely moving to the hilarious – often from one moment to the next.
What a way to spend three days: listening to, and learning from, some of the best speechwriters in the world. Informative, entertaining, moving. Wish it hadn’t ended.
Join our Network
Membership of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild or European Speechwriter Network entitles you to a £50 discount on the conference fee.
You can follow the European Speechwriter Network on Twitter @EUSpeechwriters
You can apply to join our Linkedin group, European Speechwriter Network