Oxford Speechwriters’ & Business Communicators’ Conference 2017

29 -31 March 2017
Magdalen College, Oxford
  • Start: 1000 29 March
  • End: 1230 31 March
  • Venue: Magdalen College
  • Address: Oxford, OX1 4AU
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14th UK Speechwriters’ Guild/European Speechwriter Network Conference.

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

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.

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 to download the latest provisional programme as a PDF


Pre-conference Training

Wednesday 29 March – Delegates can choose from three pre-conference training workshops


Full Conference

Thursday 30 March – Conference takes place in the Grove Auditorium

10am – 4.30pm

Speakers include: Jörg Hackeschmidt (Speechwriter to the German Chancellor), Michel Reinders (Speechwriter to the Dutch Minister of Finance), Mari Niemi (University of Turku), David Vigar, (Former editor-in-chief BP), Geoffrey Mamdani (European Commission) Giles Abbott, (Academy of Oratory), Leon Conrad (Academy of Oratory) Denise Graveline (The Eloquent Woman)

7.30pm – Conference Banquet

Enjoy a three-course banquet in Magdalen college dining hall with wine.

Contact us if you would like to practise your speechwriting by taking a 2-minute after-dinner speaking slot.


Conference Continues

Friday 31 March – 10am – 12.30pm

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

Official Conference Close – 12.30pm

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

MartinMartha 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 Marthafor the Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog, and is currently writing a book on rhetoric.

He is also a prolific cartoonist and commentator on Twitter, 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

JohnYorkeJohn @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.






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?



More speakers to be announced in the coming days…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.


Clip from Last Year’s Conference in Oxford



For a Residential Pre-Conference Training + Conference Pass (Wed, Thu & Fri), the cost is £1325 + 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 to do that. Just email and ask.


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.


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 London Paddington.

By Coach

Coaches leave Victoria coach station at frequent intervals.


We recommend you take rooms in Magdalen College to maximise your enjoyment of the conference.



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.

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

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