2014 Speechwriters and Executive Communicators Conference

2014 Speechwriters and Executive Communicators Conference

February 19-21, 2014
Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
Washington, D.C.
Standard Price: $1295
Price: $1045
  • Write speeches that get results in tough times
  • Build thought leadership that supports your organization's strategy
  • Manage time to meet deadlines a month, a week or even a day away
  • Use audience stories to personalize your speakers' words

Presented by Ragan Communications and Public Relations Society of America

Twitter hashtag: #raganspeech

PRSA members receive an exclusive $250 discount on this conference registration.
Product Code: Y4CS0DC


Wednesday, February 19

Don't miss out! Attend these four extra in-depth sessions get up to speed before the main conference begins. *Extra fee to attend.


9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Soup to nuts: Everything you need to know to write excellent speeches
Rob FriedmanNo communication job requires more skills than speechwriting. A good speechwriter is a great researcher, an imaginative writer, a gentle hand-holder, a firm persuader, a polished political negotiator and a slick promoter. How can you learn all these skills in one afternoon? Buckle up and let Eli Lilly speechwriter Rob Friedman take you from zero to speechwriter in three-and-a-half hours.

You'll learn how to:

  • Create a reasonable and rational strategy for every speech you write—and a strategy for your speechwriting
  • Work with your speaker on the front end to get a good sense of what he or she wants to say
  • Incorporate personal anecdotes to support the main idea of your speech
  • Work on the back end to make sure the speech is delivered as well as it's written
  • Write openings that will grab audiences and closings that will lock the message into their memories
  • Structure speeches so that they wind but don't wander—and drive home your speaker's point, sentence by sentence
  • Use research and rhetorical techniques that will make your speeches both persuasive and interesting
  • Publicize the speech before and after it's delivered, so that its influence goes on long after the clapping ends

You'll walk into this session a communication generalist and walk out a speechwriter, ready to sharpen your new skills in the rest of the conference.

Rob Friedman is Senior Director of Executive Communications for Eli Lilly & Co. and former Editor of Speechwriter's Newsletter.

9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Storytelling for speechwriters: Get Indiana Jones in a jam, and get him out
Michael LongNot since the advent of social media has a concept so enthralled the communications world:  More and more speakers want storytelling in their texts, but what does "storytelling" really mean? How does it differ from the narratives and metaphors that speechwriters use already? And what are the practical steps for using storytelling in a speech, especially one that doesn't seem to call for any stories at all?

In this brand-new session, you'll learn what speakers really mean when they ask for storytelling, a step-by-step approach to building a story, and the surprising "knobs and buttons" of storytelling that you can easily manipulate to achieve the goals you want. In addition, you'll learn not just how but why storytelling makes the audience remember your ideas longer, and makes them take action more quickly. You'll also learn new ways to evoke emotion in listeners, make facts more persuasive, and make speakers happier with the text you produce.

The session is led by Michael Long, renowned speechwriter and popular Ragan presenter, as well as an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who shows how techniques from the realm of entertainment are key to success in effective writing for even the most serious of occasions.

You will learn:

  • What speechwriters-as-storytellers can learn from "Indiana Jones in a jam"… and more lessons from the movies
  • The power of emotional tension in an audience, and the overwhelming need for its release
  • How to understand the audience's most personal perspective—through a game that everybody participates in during the seminar
  • Surprising sources for stories (so you don't have to write them at all)
  • How to bring a "human connection" to even the driest statistics and dullest stories
  • A simple way to convert boring facts into engaging narratives that people really want to hear
A popular speaker and educator as well as a writer, Michael Long is Director of Writing for the Master of Professional Studies Program in Corporate Communications at Georgetown University.


1:30 p.m.-5 p.m.
How to build a "bullet-proof" presentation with powerful visuals
Vincent RhodesYou've written a great speech. Now your speaker wants something visual to accompany it. A presentation doesn't have to mean "death by PowerPoint." In fact, you can get remarkable results with PowerPoint and other presentation platforms such as Prezi. Let award-winning speechwriter and designer Vincent Rhodes lead you out of your comfort zone and toward more powerful visuals in just three-and-a-half hours. Bring a laptop and test out tips and strategies during the session.

You'll learn how to:

  • Ensure your presentation serves your speech and speaker (not the other way around)
  • Craft "bullet-proof" presentations that ensure your speaker won't just read from his or her slides
  • Capitalize on basic and advanced features of PowerPoint and Prezi to move beyond the single-page, slide-deck presentation
  • Develop a strong visual metaphor and select compelling images
  • Find valuable resources for imagery and presentation design
  • Kick stock presentation templates to the curb
  • Employ key design principles to grab (and keep) audience attention
  • Ground your presentation in rhetorical and cognitive theory
Vincent Rhodes serves as Director of Marketing and Communications for Eastern Virginia Medical School.

1:30 p.m.-5 p.m.
?The 10 thorniest problems for speechwriters (and how to solve them)
Fletcher DeanWe all have them. Tough problems that crop up again and again. Sometimes they're a minor nuisance, a buzzing fly you can't shoo away; other times they create so much stress you keep your favorite recruiter on speed dial. Don't despair. Veteran speechwriter Fletcher Dean, author of 10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech and winner of four Gold Cicero Awards, has answers. He's been there, done that, and has lived to tell the tales he is pleased to share. Come to ask questions and discuss solutions in this session open to all speechwriters.

Some of the topics we'll explore:

  • How to find (and use) stories that compel
  • How to use PowerPoint when you don't want to use PowerPoint
  • What to do when your speaker loves numbers and statistics
  • How to write the best speech possible in the least amount of time
  • How to do research when you don't have time to do research
  • Survive the approval process with your words (and pride) intact
  • How to write when you have limited access to the speaker
Fletcher Dean is Director of Leadership Communication at The Dow Chemical Company and author of the new book, 10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech.