Since it started in 2009, the UK Speechwriters’ Guild has attracted a committed group of individuals who enjoy meeting up at conferences to listen to top speechwriters talk about their work.
The initial impetus came from British speechwriter, Brian Jenner, who was invited to speak at the Ragan Communications Speechwriters Conference in Washington in 2008.
Every spring, over 200 US speechwriters meet at the Mayflower Hotel to listen to each other describe their strategies for communicating with voters, clients and customers.
The questions came from the American delegates to their British visitor: how does speechwriting work in the UK? How can our speakers appear at your set-piece events? How could we promote our magazine that publishes speechwriting tips in Europe?
He couldn’t answer their questions. In December 2008, he tried to find out by sending out invitations to a drinks party in the Theatre Bar of the Victoria in London W2. Thirty people involved in the public speaking, training and speechwriting business showed up.
This inspired the first conference of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild held on Friday 16 September 2009 at the Arts University College in Bournemouth.
It became apparent that there was a community of public speaking experts and accomplished speechwriters in the UK and they enjoyed each other’s company.
It also became apparent that there was little understanding of what a speechwriter does within organisations, and even less appreciation for the idea of it being a specialist skill.
Since that time we have hosted regular conferences and events. We’ve built up a conference which rivals the annual Ragan Communications Washington event, firmly establishing speechwriting as multilingual talent that offers employment opportunities across the globe, pays well and involves stimulating work within big organisations.
In 2012, because we were attracting so many visiting delegates from Europe, we started the European Speechwriter Network.
The most recent UK conference was at Westminster College, Cambridge in April 2015, which attracted speechwriters from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark. In October 2015, we hosted our third European conference at the Neue Mälzerei in Berlin, Germany.
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