Can academics become better writers?

Fri 16 April

Brilliant academics are often not brilliant writers or brilliant lecturers. Is this a problem? Should we do something about it?

There is a rather unfair assertion that the more highly educated a person is, the worse their communication skills. The University of Chicago creating a special writing faculty – first and foremost to help the academic staff.

Is it inevitable that academics use highly-specialised language?

How should students and academics be taught to improve their writing and presentation skills?

Is it just a problem for scientists or does the same problem exist in the humanities?

This will be a panel discussion about academic writing and presenting followed by an open discussion.


Dr Max Atkinson

From 1974-1986, Max was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, having formerly lectured at the universities of Lancaster and Manchester. He was a visiting professor at the Henley Management College from 1986 to 2006 and has also been visiting professor at Duke University, North Carolina and the universities of Vienna and Stockholm. He wrote a pioneering book on political rhetoric called Our Masters’ Voices which formed the basis of a World in Action documentary that trained a woman with no speaking experience to speak at a national political conference.

Justine Bashford

Justine works as a speechwriter at the University of Cambridge, predominantly for the Vice-Chancellor and other senior figures. She also compose articles and editorials for web and print, and is involved in strategic planning for University events.

Professor Richard Toye

Richard is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He previously worked at the University of Cambridge. He is a prolific author on modern British and international political and economic history. His critically acclaimed book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness won him the 2007 Times Higher Young Academic Author of the Year Award. He also regularly appears on television programmes.

Lucinda Worlock interviews John-Paul Flintoff

Wed 14 April

John-Paul Flintoff has written a gentle and brave book about public speaking.

Rather than passing down instructions from the perspective of an established expert, he’s shared his vulnerablities as a rather shy and introverted journalist, who has had to take the stage as part of his quest to earn a living.
Rhetorical handbooks have taken many shapes and sizes down the centuries, John Paul-Flintoff has refreshed the genre.

If you’ve enjoyed the books of Sam Leith, Jay Heinrichs or Mark Forsyth, you’ll love this witty, self-deprecating and topical manual for the would-be TEDx speaker, best man or candidate for public office.

Flintoff’s book is a wise, inspiring and moving account of how he’s overcome his fear of public speaking and assimilated insights and techniques from the worlds of preaching, theatre and business.

Lucinda Worlock, an experienced public speaking trainer and voice coach, will be talking to John-Paul about how he came to write the book, what we can do to find the courage to share our wisdom, and how we can all become better speakers and speechwriters.

John-Paul Flintoff is a journalist, artist and performer who has delivered talks across four continents to audiences of as many as 5,000 people. He has worked as a writer and editor at the Financial Times and The Sunday Times, trained in improvisational theatre and has published five books, including How to Change the World.

Lucinda Worlock is a voice and communication coach with a diverse client base that spans across multiple industries throughout the UK and Europe, as well as Asia and Latin America, including doctors, journalists, architects, politicians, actors and sports commentators. She is a voice tutor for RADA Business and part of the voice faculty for Shakespeare’s Globe, and former in-house voice and communication lead at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

I absolutely loved this. What did I love? I loved the cheeky tone, the artless blurting, the pithiness, the constant breaking of the fourth wall and defying convention about how to write a how-to book. I loved the vulnerability and honesty. This is a subject which, as he says, has been written about many times before, but never with such refreshing chutzpah and humour. The book itself is a masterclass in its own subject. ― Jenny Rogers, Executive coach, speaker, and author of Are You Listening? (Penguin Business 2021)

This is a warm, wise, brave – and humble – book that makes you feel better about public self, whether its giving a speech or anything else. I am glad I read it. Deb

As someone who speaks in public a lot, and who loves doing it, I was really excited to read this new take on rhetoric, communication, and speaking well. I learned so much! I greatly enjoy JP’s writing style too – he is creative, accessible, humorous, vulnerable, witty, wise, and above all, authentic. AL


Speechwriters’ Zoom Conversation


Every Friday afternoon, members of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild and European Speechwriter Network, log on to Zoom to share what they’ve been up to

About this Event

These difficult times are a chance to change the way we socialise.

Speechwriting is a very specialist skill and it’s not easy to bring us all together.

But by the miracle of Zoom we can log on every Friday and share what’s going on around the world, what we’re working on, and what we’ve been reading.

It’s a chance to keep up professional connections and get to know some new colleagues. And if you’re a young speechwriter, you can join us to ask questions about your work and get a response from wiser heads.

We invite our new members to introduce themselves. It’s part focus group, part club hangout, part group therapy.

All members of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild and European Speechwriter Newtwork are welcome to drop in.

The Essentials of Speechwriting Summer 2021

Thu 10 June 2021

How does speechwriting differ from other kinds of writing?

The Essentials of Speechwriting is an enjoyable, hands-on workshop covering the core skills of the craft.

Event Details and Tickets

Cambridge Speechwriters’ & Business Communicators’ Conference 2022

Wed 30 Mar 2022

You’re invited to the 20th European Speechwriter Network Conference.

This is the conference rescheduled from April 2020. We will, as far as possible keep the same line-up as promised in 2020, (we may use virtual conference facilities if some speakers are not able to appear or we will find appropriate alternatives).

Why attend?

This conference is for anyone wanting to learn from leading lights in the world of speechwriting.

And for people eager to share their experience with their peers.

Corporate, Government and financial cultures need imagination to communicate.

Event Details and Tickets

Previous Speakers at the UK Speechwriters’ Guild

Bournemouth, London, Brussels, Oxford, Amsterdam, Cambridge

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.

1st Conference, 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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