Helsinki Speechwriters’ & Business Communicators’ Conference

11-12 October 2018
Helsinki, Finland
  • Start: 10am 11 October 2018
  • End: 5.00pm 12 October 2018
  • Venue: The House of the Estates
  • Address: Snellmaninkatu 9-11, 00170 Helsinki, Finland
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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 17th UK Speechwriters’ Guild/European Speechwriter Network Leadership & Communication conference will be held at the House of the Estates in Helsinki. This event has been made possible by the support of the Finnish Literature Society.

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 a provisional programme for the two days.

Wednesday 10 October

4pm – For early arrivals, you can join us for the ultimate Finnish experience – a Speechwriters’ Sauna at Löyly. Please email us to say you will be attending. This will be followed by a meal in central Helsinki.

DAY 1 – Pre-conference Training

Thursday 11 October – Delegates can choose from three pre-conference training workshops

10.00am – 4.30pm – Martin Shovel & Martha Leyton: The Mystery of the Metonym –  a 1 day seminar on how to write great speeches using the most powerful speechwriting tool most of us have never heard of!
Click here to download a more detailed description

10.00am – 4.30pm – Alan Barker: Plain speaking for international audiences – a 1-day seminar on speechwriting in English as a foreign language
Click here to download a more detailed description

10am – 4.30pm Mike Long: Strategic Speechwriting: The Method and The Art
Click here to download a more detailed description

4.45pm – Tour of the Finnish Literature Society

6.00pm – Drinks reception and buffet with the Mayor of Helsinki


Friday 12 October – Full Conference

10am – 4.30pm

Speakers: Dan Sobovitz (European Commission), Alison Reid (Teesside University), Alexander Stubb (Finland), Dr Max Atkinson (Atkinson Communications), Thomas Hart (Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs), Anthony Lichi (US Navy)

5.00pm Informal drinks and a meal in central Helsinki

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

Mike Long

Mike 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.




Martin Shovel & Martha Leyton


Martha Leyton and Martin Shovel are speechwriters and communications coaches, who run a UK communications consultancy called CreativityWorks.

They write speeches for chief executives, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and lawyers. They also train speechwriters and other communications professionals.

Martin’s writing has appeared in many places, including the Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog and the Macmillan Dictionary blog, and he is also a prolific cartoonist and Twitter commentator (@martinshovel). He and Martha have also made several animated films, including the viral YouTube hit, Busting the Mehrabian Myth.


Alan Barker

Alan is Managing Director of Kairos Training Limited. He regularly delivers workshops and coaching on speechwriting to a wide range of organisations, including the European Commission, the International Criminal Court and The Natural History Museum, London.

Alan is the author of fifteen books, including: How to Solve Almost Any Problem (Pearson), Improve Your Communication Skills (Kogan Page), How to Manage Meetings (Kogan Page).




Alexander Stubb

Alexander served as Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Foreign Minister, Trade and Europe Minister of Finland. His background is in academia and civil service, with a focus on EU affairs. He was a member of the European Parliament from 2004-2008, a government minister from 2008-16, a member of parliament from 2011-2017 and chairman of the National Coalition Party from 2014-16. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, has published 18 books and is a self-professed sports fanatic.



Anthony Lichi

Anthony is a U.S. Naval Officer now serving as the speechwriter for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, United States European Command.
Prior to commissioning in the Navy, he was Assistant Professor of Art History at Old Dominion University (2008-2011).

He earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Art History from Indiana University in Bloomington where he focused on rhetoric in the Italian Renaissance.
Anthony currently resides in Mons, Belgium with his wife and four children


Alison Reid

Alison has more than eight years’ experience in speechwriting and communications in higher education and government. She currently collaborates with a member of the House of Lords, in the UK parliament, writing political speeches on education, employment and housing. She has particular interests in intercultural communication and spoken language, and has just finished a Master’s degree in non-fiction creative writing.




Dr Max Atkinson


Max was Paddy Ashdown’s speechwriter in 1987. He ran workshops for Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters and has been a prolific author on the subject of speechwriting and public speaking.




Dan Sobovitz

Dan has led the digital presence and publications of the Vice President of the European Commission for the past 3 years. Previously, he had served as the editor in chief and digital communication coordinator of the EU Humanitarian Aid Department (DG ECHO). He has also advised various international organisations and consultancies on their digital communication, including EU and UN institutions, the British Chamber of Commerce to the EU, the Slovak Foreign Ministry, the European Academy for Taxes, Economy & Law, Fleishman Hilliard, the Public Affairs Council, Clear Europe, and others.

In 2013, Dan co-founded ‘Ceci n’est pas une crise’, a civil society organisation which analyses the current wave of xenophobic populism and advocates for an inclusive and tolerant alternative.

When he’s not at his day job, Dan blogs and lectures about the interplay between technology, society, and politics. He is a citizen of Israel, Switzerland, and Hungary (and potentially a few other countries) but Brussels is where he currently calls home.


Thomas Hart

Thomas studied Classics at the University of Amsterdam, with a research master’s in rhetoric. During his degree, he started writing speeches for local politicians as a freelancer. After his degree, he wrote for the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science in The Hague. He then worked at a consultancy firm that specializes in reputation and communication management. Currently, he works in The Hague again, as speechwriter for the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs.




Alexei Kapterev

Copyright Sean Gardiner 2012

Alexei is a  teacher of visual communication at the Graduate School of Business Administration at Moscow State University, Alexei came to fame with his presentation, Death by PowerPoint – a presentation on presentations. He works with Mercator, Russia’s premier studio producing corporate presentations. He is the author of the book Presentation Secrets published by John Wiley.

Michelle Knight

Michelle works as a speechwriter for the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

Her main focus lies on international/EU affairs, integration/migration, and on macroeconomic issues, such as the EU Dutch Presidency, the relationship between globalization and growing discontent, the effects of robotisation, and the increasing inequality in income and mobility.

In her previous positions, she worked as a ghost-writer for other politicians, CEOs, managers and campaign ambassadors.

Michelle earned her PhD in 2015. Her research involved the communication patterns between the New York Police Department and its critics


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 has lectured at numerous universities in his native country Germany and South Africa. He is a member of the German Speech Writers Association(VRDS).

The title of his breakout session will be:  The Dramatic Dynamics of Excellent Speeches – from a theater director’s point of view.




Oscar Santolalla

Oscar is on a mission to help technology companies to present better, inspire people and sell more. He works as a Sales Engineer at Ubisecure, a Finnish cybersecurity firm. Oscar is author of the book Create and Deliver a Killer Product Demo (2017). With over a decade in the technology arena, he regularly writes in international blogs and gives talks and workshops across Europe. Since 2014 Oscar hosts ‘Time to Shine’ a podcast in which he interviews speakers, speechwriters, and other communication experts from all over the world. He will be delivering a breakout session on, Technical keynotes and product demos that made history.




Mari K Niemi

Dr Mari K. Niemi specialises in political campaigning and communication, populism and media. Alongside her academic research Mari is an active political pundit who follows campaigning around the world. In 2018 she was a regular political commentator for the televised coverage of the Finnish presidential elections. She analysed live speeches and appearances made by the eight candidates on live TV for the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation YLE together with a network of visiting guests. Since January 2018, Mari K. Niemi has been the Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab research platform at the University of Vaasa, Finland. She will chair the conference.



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.



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.


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%. If you can’t make it at the last minute, you can transfer your attendance to a future conference.


Get to Helsinki

By Air

Land at Helsinki Airport, which serves Europe, America, Africa and Asia. The airport is quite busy and also has a lot of low-cost carriers.

There is a train and bus station in the airport itself. Suburban trains to Helsinki (a ride of 30 minutes) run regularly.



Most of us will be staying in the Hotel Arthur, Vuorikatu 19, 00100 Helsinki


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 + VAT 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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