Congratulations to Patrick Ross, from West Wing Writers in the United States, who won this year’s Fred Metcalf Award for After-Dinner Speaking.
There were 20 entries to the competition which took place in Brasenose College Dining Hall on 23 March 2023.
The competition was part of the 21st Speechwriters’ & Business Communicators’ conference in Oxford.
Patrick distinguished himself with his inventive use of the keywords allocated to him in the competition.
About the Fred Metcalf award…
In 2017, Fred Metcalf, speechwriter to Sir David Frost and prolific collector of one-liners and humorous quotations, died.
Fred attended three of our speechwriting conferences, and he regaled us with his jokes every time. You may own a copy of the Penguin Book of Humorous Quotations, which he edited.
When we extended our conferences to three days with a banquet, we started an after-dinner speaking competition.
A year after Fred’s death we decided to name it in his honour.
We have five presentations on the second morning of the conference. After each presentation, the audience is invited to shout out two words used in the speech.
The chair collects the words, and in the afternoon, the ten words are put on a slide and the delegates are challenged to compose an entertaining speech, lasting no longer than two minutes, using all the words.
Some of Fred’s jokes about speaking…
On how to become a good speaker: ‘Practise all the time. One of the best ways is to put a bunch of marbles in your mouth while you talk. Slowly but surely you take away a marble. And then, when you’ve lost all your marbles, you’re a public speaker.’
‘Good ladies, evening and gentlemen… I knew I should have practised this speech.’
‘The best way to stay awake in an after-dinner speech is to give it.’
‘Advice to speakers: If you don’t know what to talk about, talk about three minutes.’