Battle of the Speeches with President Obonjo

21 November 2019
London, UK
  • Start: 1830
  • End: 2030
  • Venue: St Matthew's Conference Centre
  • Address: 20 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2BU
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Are you an outstanding speechwriter?

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild is launching a Battle of the Speeches to showcase brilliant speechwriting.

In the C21st, speechwriting is a respected trade.

Speechwriters work for many of the top executives and politicians.

The competition for jobs is fierce.

You’ll be in a better position to get one if you’ve won some laurels which provide evidence of your abilities.

Here’s your chance to stand out from the crowd and build a profile.

The Battle of the Speeches will pit speechwriter against speechwriter and offer a great evening of entertainment.

You’ll be working with a top performer in front of a live audience.

We’re inviting speechwriters to imagine the following…

The Brief

President Obonjo from the Lafta Republic in Africa has been invited to give a five-minute presentation at Westminster Hall.

He invited himself because he is keen to encourage the British people to join his revolution.

What his revolution stands for, is up to you to describe.

It could be to root out corruption from the British Establishment, it could be to stop the use of single use plastics, reverse Brexit, legalise drugs or he could urge everyone to start their own business. It’s up to you.

He will appear at the event dressed in full military uniform.

You are invited to write a 5-minute speech (no longer than 650 words) for President Obonjo.

You might think about the kind of speeches that populist dictators make, and what rhetorical structures they use to present their arguments.

Be creative, imaginative or humorous.

You need to include emotional appeals and vivid images to make the President’s case persuasive.

We’re looking for talent and flair.

It will be an audience of MPs, and hundreds of distinguished people between the ages of 30 and 80. The Queen, Prince Philip, the Foreign Secretary and journalists will also be in attendance.

The speech can be funny or serious, it’s up to you.

As always with speechwriting, you should make reference to the setting, the date and the occasion. 

The best eight will be selected by our judges and sent to President Obonjo for him to rehearse and perform.

The president will deliver the speech in front of a live audience at a special pre-Christmas event at St Matthew’s Conference Centre in London on Thursday 21 November from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

How to enter

Entries should be submitted in a Word document, doubled spaced in a PDF format by email.

We have created a ticket on Eventbrite that includes entry into the competition.

So when you buy a ticket, you get your place at the final to listen to President Obonjo’s speeches, and it includes the entry fee for the competition.

With hope, you will get to hear your speech delivered by President Obonjo.

There is a 50% discount on the entry fees if you are a member of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild or the European Speechwriter Network.

To qualify for the £50 early-bird ticket/entry fee rate, you need to submit your speech by email to by 15 October 2019.

You can still buy  ticket up and enter up to 1 November, but the ticket/entry fee goes up to £75.

If you prefer to pay by invoice (your employer may see value in you taking part), please request one.

When we receive your speech by email, it will be forwarded to the judges.

Your entry should include a cover sheet indicating your name, the title of President Obonjo’s speech and the numbers of words.

The best speeches will be forwarded to President Obonjo, who will read and prepare to deliver them.

There will be a panel of judges who will evaluate the speeches and select an overall winner and two runners-up will be selected on the night.

If your speech does not go through to the final, you will still receive a 100 word evaluation of your speech from an experienced speechwriter.

The entry fee is non-refundable. You will still be eligible to win the competition, even if you cannot attend the event.

Videos of President Obonjo are to be found on YouTube, but you should not repeat any material that he has used before.

This event is inspired by the Speech Battle, a format pioneered by the Flemish-Dutch House deBuren


The Judges

Jess Cunniffe

Former speechwriter to the UK Prime Minister, now working for the Office of David Cameron.





Guy Doza

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.

You can view his recent TEDxCambridgeUniversity talk on rhetoric here.



Renée Broekmeulen

Renée has worked for 24 years as a speechwriter and teacher. First as a civil servant writing for the Dutch Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Ministry of Interior Affairs. Fourteen years ago she started her own business. She writes speeches for politicians, directors and managers, learns speechwriters from the Netherlands and Belgium how to write speeches with impact and co-organises (with Dutch-Flemish organisation De Buren) the famous ‘speech battles’ that take place in Belgium and the Netherlands.



President Obonjo

Some background on the President…

In the age of Trump, populism and Brexit, the world probably doesn’t need another bloated ego pretending to give easy solutions.

Thankfully what we need is a comedy character who skewers them with precision, hilarity and who isn’t afraid at showing vulnerability.

President Obonjo, is an upcoming stand-up comedian.

As the larger-than-life, über-confident, self-appointed, side-splitting dictator of ‘Lafta Republic’, President Obonjo has quietly been leading a comedy revolution to become the first President to take over the comedy industry by storm.

He has been creating rumblings by storming New Act competitions including winning Luton Comedian of the Year, Runner-Up at Great Yorkshire Fringe and was a finalist in the Naty New Act of the Year competition 2016.

His previous solo show President Obonjo Stole My Identity was performed in 2015 at Bath Comedy Festival, Brighton Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in 2015 and 2017 to packed crowds and critical acclaim.

His latest show the Rise of the Comedy Dictator was performed at Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Festival in 2017 and at Leicester Comedy Festival in 2018.

President Obonjo returns to Edinburgh in 2019 with his new show Goodbye Mr President.

What the press have said:

‘It’s a great comic construct, with lots of seized opportunities for playing with the clichés’– Steve Bennett, Chortle

‘There was the potential of that high-status, comedy bomb-proof kind of character that Alexis Dubus has created so successfully with Marcel Lucont.’ – Ben Venables, Londonist

‘On the face of it, it works as a well-crafted political comedy, exposing how the world has treated Africa and left much of it to suffer corrupt governments led by the likes of Obonjo. But it’s the layers of context that really make this a fascinating, bewildering and painfully funny experience.’ – ☆☆☆☆☆ Fringe Guru

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