Speechwriter of the Year 2019 with President Obonjo

21 November 2019
London, UK

Are you an outstanding speechwriter?

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild, in conjunction is launching a competition to find the best speechwriters in the country.

In the C21st, speechwriting is a respected trade.

Speechwriters work for many of the top executives and politicians.

The competition for jobs is fierce, and often won by people who can provide evidence of their outstanding abilities.

Here’s your chance to stand out from the crowd and build a profile. You’ll also work 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 to the distinguished London-based think-tank, Ineptias.

He invited himself because he is keen to advise the British Government on how to clean up its act and improve democracy in the UK.

He wants to offer his views on how to build strong institutions, a functioning public sector and entrepreneurial economy, and most importantly, how to root out corruption from the Establishment.

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 are made at think tanks, the sort of observations that dictators make, and what rhetorical structures will best present his 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.

The Queen, Prince Philip, the Foreign Secretary and journalists will 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 info@europeanspeechwriters.org 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.


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.



Renee Broekmeulen

Renée has worked for 20 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. Ten years ago she started her own business. She writes speeches for politicians, directors and managers and organises 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

Paris Speechwriters’ & Business Communicators’ Conference 2019

26-27 September 2019

Rhetoric is the art of influence, friendship, and eloquence, of ready wit and irrefutable logic. And it harnesses the most powerful of social forces, argument. – Jay Heinrichs

In the context of turbulent political events, the 19th UK Speechwriters’ Guild/European Speechwriter Network Leadership & Communication conference will be held at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.

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.

Event Details and Tickets

The Essentials of Speechwriting London 2019

19 September 2019
London, UK

This practical training day introduces a systematic approach to speechwriting. We’ll look at how to:

  • formulate striking key messages;
  • structure a speech as an engaging performance;
  • use rhetorical devices to give our language flair;
  • make our ideas more memorable;
  • adjust the text of the speech to the delivery style of the speaker; and
  • help our speeches survive poor delivery.

Event Details and Tickets

Essentials of Speechwriting Leuven 2019

17 October 2019
Leuven, Belgium

This practical training day introduces a systematic approach to speechwriting. We’ll look at how to:

  • formulate striking key messages;
  • structure a speech as an engaging performance;
  • use rhetorical devices to give our language flair;
  • make our ideas more memorable;
  • adjust the text of the speech to the delivery style of the speaker; and
  • help our speeches survive poor delivery.

Event Details and Tickets

Previous Speakers at the European Speechwriter Network

London, Brussels, Oxford, Amsterdam, Cambridge, Berlin

Since 2009, the following speakers have addressed the European Speechwriter Network and UK Speechwriters’ Guild conferences and events.

Many of the contributions have been recorded as podcasts, which are available for download here.

Arts University, Bournemouth, September 2009

Tobias Ellwood MP, Dr Max Atkinson (former speechwriter to Paddy Ashdown), Dr Johann Siebers (University of Central Lancashire), Martin Shovel and Martha Leyton (Creativity Works), Dr Susan Jones (UK Government speechwriter), Phil Collins (former speechwriter to Tony Blair), Phillip Khan-Panni, (former Toastmasters International Finalist)

Event Details and Tickets

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