£78 – £1,645.74

Oxford Speechwriters' & Business Communicators' Conference 2017

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Magdalen College



United Kingdom

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14th UK Speechwriters' Guild/ European Speechwriter Network Conference at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Our conferences are open to people who write speeches in their organisations.

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, how they build relationships.

Who should attend?

Previous conferences in the UK, Brussels and Amsterdam have attracted speechwriters from the European Commission, NATO, 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.

You should attend this conference if you are interested in:

  • Communicating your organisation's mission, vision and values
  • Helping leaders motivate and inspire
  • Discovering techniques to give your speeches more impact
  • Understanding how speeches are interpreted
  • Engaging people with your ideas

The benefits

  • 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 the Europe and the rest of the world


Click here for a the provisional programme for the event.

Pre-Conference Training


Delegates can choose from three pre-conference training workshops

10am – 4.30pm Martin Shovel and Martha Leyton – Style, Structure and Storytelling – a 1-day seminar to sharpen your speechwriting skills.

Click here to download a more detailed summary.

10am – 4.30pm Mike Long: Strategic Speechwriting: The Method and The Art

Click here to download a more detailed summary.

10am – 4.30pm John Yorke: Rhetoric & The Hollywood Blockbuster – a 1-day seminar on the shape of stories and how they apply to business, advertising and politics.

Click here to download a more detailed summary.

Main Conference

Thursday 30 March

10am - 4.30pm - European Speechwriter Network Conference

Speakers include: Geoffrey Mamdami (European Commission), Michel Reinders (Dutch Ministry of Finance), Jörg Hackeschmidt, (German Chancellery), Sarah O'Reilly (Royal Society of Chemistry), Geoffrey Mamdani (European Comission)

6.30pm - Drinks reception.

7pm - Three course banquet in Magdalen College

Email us if you'd like to take one of the two-minute speaking slots to practise your after-dinner speechwriting.

Friday 15 April

10 - 12.30am - Conference Day 2

Speakers include: Alexander Drechsel (European Commission), Geoffrey Stevenson (University of Edinburgh), Mike Long

Official Conference Close

1pm - Optional lunch in the Nosebag, St Michael's Street

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

Pre-Conference Trainers

Martin Shovel & Martha Leyton

Martha Leyton and Martin Shovel run UK consultancy CreativityWorks.

They write speeches for chief executives, politicians, leaders of trade unions and professional organizations, and they train speechwriters and other communications professionals.

Martin was recently commissioned to write a series on political rhetoric for the Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog, and is currently writing a Marthabook on rhetoric.

He is also a prolific cartoonist and commentator on Twitter @MartinShovel, and he and Martha have created several animated films, including the viral YouTube hit, Busting the Mehrabian Myth.

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 public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University.

John Yorke

John @jyintothewoods is Managing Director of Angel Station where he works as a drama producer, consultant and lecturer on all forms of storytelling.

A former MD of Company Pictures where he Exec Produced Wolf Hall, he’s worked as both Head of Channel Four Drama and Controller of BBC Drama Production. As a commissioning Editor/Executive Producer, he championed Life On Mars, The Street, Shameless and Bodies and in 2005 he created the BBC Writers Academy, a year-long in-depth training scheme which has produced a generation of successful television writers.

John is the author of Into the Woods – the highly acclaimed book about how and why we tell stories.


Jörg Hackeschmidt

Jörg has been a member of the speechwriting unit at the Chancellery of 
the Federal Government of Germany since 2006. Before that he was a speechwriter in the office of the Federal President.

Mari K Niemi

Mari K. Niemi, PhD, is a senior researcher (University of Turku, Finland) who specialises in political campaigning, populism, political leadership and media. Alongside her academic research Mari is a blogger, columnist, political pundit and a freelance journalist, who frequently attends political events and follows political campaigning around the world, most recently that of Donald J. Trump’s in the United States. The title of her presentation will be: How populism speaks to us – and why it works.

David Vigar

David is a writer, consultant and coach who has worked at senior levels in the media, business and politics. He has written speeches for the leaders of BP, BT and AstraZeneca, as well as for leading lawyers and politicians. He was BP’s editor-in-chief for six years until June 2016, having previously worked as an editor on the BBC Today Programme, press secretary for Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown and director of communications for the European Movement.

Michel Reinders

Michel, PhD, somehow succeeded not to write a single article about finance during the years he worked as a journalist for a Dutch newspaper (Algemeen Dagblad) in the early 00s. Later, he went on to dabble in science (carefully avoiding anything related to statistics), write books (without graphs, figures or tables) and advise ministers (not once using the words:“as our budget shows”). Now, he works as a speechwriter for the Dutch Minister of Finance and President of the Eurogroup.

Alexander Drechsel

Alexander is a staff interpreter at the European Commission, working from English, French and Romanian into his native German. He shares other people’s opinions in the interpreting booth, and his own opinions on languages and technology on his website or as @adrechsel on Twitter.

Dr Geoffrey Stevenson

Geoffrey is a lecturer and writer who teaches preaching and media literacy at the University of Edinburgh where he is an Honorary Fellow. He studied philosophy and theology at Oxford, then trained as an actor and mime artist, touring his own theatre shows for 15 years. He has published two books on mime and three on preaching.

We do our best to make sure all speakers appear as billed, but we may have to make some substitutions in the event of illness or unexpected events.

Leonoor Russell

Leonoor is the speechwriter for the President of the Dutch Senate. The President regularly delivers speeches at national and international political settings, where she represents all the Senate’s political fractions. Therefore, Leonoor specialises in speeches about politics that are not political. She will be charing the conference.

Sarah O'Reilly

Sarah is a speechwriter and communications adviser who helps experts translate their ideas into compelling stories. In her current role at the Royal Society of Chemistry, the world’s leading chemistry community, she has written speeches for audiences ranging from Nobel Prize winning scientists to school children. Previously, she was speechwriter for the Group CEO at global insurer Prudential and a crisis and issues communication consultant.

She started her career as an entertainment journalist and is still addicted to the arts; as a freelancer she has written speeches for high profile cultural figures, from an Oscar-nominated actor to the head of one of the UK’s leading art galleries.

Geoffrey Mamdani

Geoffrey is speechwriter to Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition. Before becoming a speechwriter, Geoffrey was a finance lawyer and lecturer, and worked at the European Commission designing policy on bank bailouts. He has spoken and written widely on competition policy.

Denise Graveline

Denise is a Washington, DC-based speaker coach and author of The Eloquent Woman blog.

Denise is a former journalist and communications leader who has coached nearly 150 speakers for talks at TEDMED and various TEDx conferences, as well as speakers at Fortune 100 and 500 companies, the U.S. federal government, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

She chaired the 2013 European Speechwriter Network conference in Brussels. One of her speakers made the Top 10 most popular TED talks of 2016. She will be running a breakout on, How to prepare your speaker for a TED talk.

Alexander von Reumont

Alexander studied acting and directing in Munich and Los Angeles and worked for more than 10 years on stage, in TV, radio and film. Since 1985 he is a lecturer, consultant and trainer. He will be running a breakout on charisma analysis – where does the credibility of the speaker come from?


If your institution does not pay VAT, or if you prefer to submit a purchase order, or you would just like us to send you an invoice instead of paying through Eventbrite, please get in touch. We can separate the accommodation from the conference and training, if you request.

Cancellation Policy

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.

How to get to Oxford

By Air

Oxford is within easy reach of London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Birmingham International Airport.

By Train

If you arrive in the UK by Eurostar, there is a fast and frequent rail service from Paddington.


To maximise enjoyment of the conference we encourge you to stay in Magdalen College with most of the other delegates. Oxford colleges have old rooms that can be part of their charm. Some rooms do not have ensuite toilet facilities. To get the best rooms, it's advisable to book early.


There are a limited number of discounts availalbe to people in full-time education who are considering a career in speechwriting. Details on application.


It was a great event and I found the speakers provided an excellent insight into the world of speechwriting - so thank you!

Kate, IBM

We went back to the real nitty-gritty elements of the craft, and going back to basics made me think afresh about different approaches that can be taken. The Conference overall was educational, practical and full of ideas and creative energy. Attending was a brilliant opportunity – go!

Jonathan Kinsella (speechwriter at Dept of Culture, Media and Sport)

Loved the conference. Great speakers and well organized. Learnt lots.

Alistair McIntosh, Chief Executive, Housing Quality Network

Thanks especially for getting Sam Leith and David Day to speak to the group, both were utterly compelling. And thanks for all the thought and hard work that doubtlessly go into this event every year, I can't think of any other conference that's worth packing a suitcase for.

Maddy, Clifford Chance

It was a hugely enjoyable two days and an honour to speak among such stellar names. Congrats on pulling off such a successful event.

David K

I greatly enjoyed the conference, and very much appreciated being invited.

Edward Mortimer, former speechwriter to Kofi Annan

Let me thank you wholeheartedly again for having invited me to your brilliantly organized conference in Oxford. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I was impressed by the line-up of speakers, the truly international mix of people, the intellectual level of the contributions (and contributors) and the wonderful venue you had chosen

Willi Vogler, Verband der Redenschreiber deutscher Sprache

Thanks for organising such a brilliant event – I have just been raving about how brilliant the event was to my colleagues and would very much like one of them to attend next year, could you keep me on your mailing list.

Communications Director at Astellas Pharma Europe

Thanks for organising such a great event.

Ben Duncan, Senior Adviser to the Director, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Thank you for an outstanding conference. Congratulations for organising multiple perspectives on speech writing – Foreign Office, UN, government and business.

Jamie Priestley

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