I certainly don’t want to jinx my speech at the UK Speechwriters Guild Oxford Speechwriters’ and Business Communicators’ Conference 2023 late next week in England, but that one shouldn’t be too hard a sell, as it’s to an audience of speechwriters who ought to understand and appreciate the unique power of in-person speeches.
While that crowd might quibble with my argumentation, I doubt they’ll challenge my thesis:
From the Gutenberg Press to YouTube, technology has rendered the old-fashioned speech more meaningful than it has ever been, argues David Murray, founder and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association. Speeches—before a Parliament, supporters, members of staff, etc.—have a unique ability to connect audiences, not just to the speaker on the stage, but to one another—intellectually, emotionally, even spiritually. Through a series of historic and contemporary speech excerpts, Murray will demonstrate the power of the modern speech and show by example, how to make a speech that transforms an audience into a coherent community.
It’s the audience I’m addressing earlier in the week—Tuesday, March 21—at the European Parliamentary Research Service’s Annual Lecture that will actually test the veracity of my message itself. My host, European Parliament speechwriter and rhetoric expert Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart, tells me the audience will be made up of some speechwriters, yes, but also: “leaders/speakers including some Parliament VIPs, assistants to Members of the European Parliament, policy specialists/researchers from the Parliament Research Service, staff from parliaments in our Member States, rhetoric students, etc. in the room and online.”
If my talk connects that disparate audience to one another in a common understanding and mutual feeling about political communication and rhetoric—which Gaudeul-Ehrhart points out would be useful at the beginning of the European Parliament’s election year—I will have proved my point. And if it doesn’t? Well, then I guess I won’t have proved my point.
If you want to see how it goes—and you’re an early riser; I go on at 7:30 a.m. Eastern—you can register for free, for the online version of the event.
But if you want to feel how it goes, I’m afraid you’ll need to be in Brussels, with us.
That’s the whole point.