Today is the last day of the first virtual World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association.
How has it gone, and how has it compared to the warm, intense and often funny in-person gathering so many of us have so long loved?
“I was skeptical about this online meeting,” said a perennial participant after Day One. “It’s working perfectly.”
“If the objective was that we would feel (as much as possible) like being on Georgetown campus,” said another, “you have it. … We had really good, useful, trusted conversations. Towards the end, one person asked for advice, got several ideas to help moving ahead, and concluded by thanking us and saying ‘I can feel love at this table.’ What else do you want?”
“This wonderful, inspiring feeling of breathing the same air and tuning in to the same pulse–well that feeling is just as strong, and perhaps even higher valued this year.”
“It has been engaging, inspiring, exciting, and intermittently infuriating–which is exactly what I want and expect from a convening of this kind. From the first day, I have come away bubbling with ideas for how to apply the insights and examples of your presenters to my own work. And here on the eve of our final session, I am close to overflowing.”
“At one point I was actually clapping at my screen.”
“HOLY $#!=….. This is the best conference ever.”
Those are initial reactions of World Conference devotees, of course. I’m sure responses to next week’s survey will have more to teach us about how to do this better next time, assuming as we do that there may be one more virtual or semi-virtual next time. But in either case, at least one participant said, “You can bet that I’ll be back next year.”
Well then, so will we.
To those of you who are registered for the conference, please make space for this last day of programming, which may seem more spiritual than essential. These days, spiritual is essential.
We’ll hear a moral call for responsible rhetoric by U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, we’ll have a toast by Cicero Speechwriting Awards grand winner Martine Boelsma, we’ll hear a musical ode to rhetoric (and vice versa) by Danish concert trumpeters Mette Hojen and Jonas Wiik and we’ll enjoy a reading by this guy, about the next phase of our civilization, and the essential role of speechwriters and other communicators, professional and amateur.
And all that before a frenzied virtual pub crawl, afternoon in the States, evening in Europe and Saturday morning in Asia-Pacific, that promises to be so epic that—well, suffice it to say, don’t bother calling your speechwriter today. She or he will be in better shape on Monday.
Postscript: After I delivered my conference-closing toast through a Malone Media miracle from Georgetown’s campus bar, the Bulldog Tavern …
… a writer friend emailed me in response to this story, “Never so badly have I wanted to be a speechwriter.” The more the merrier, Sister.