Winning the European Speechwriter of the Year
It is fair to say that 2020 started with a bit of a bang when I found out that I’d won a speechwriting competition run by the European Speechwriters Network. It was a fun brief to work on, we were asked to write a speech for President Obonjo (a spoof dictator, who is a big hit on the comedy circuit). The speech would be written as though delivered in Westminster to a VIP audience, and could be on any topic, but we needed to get the character just right. You can watch the winning speech here – I was delighted with the professional way it was produced, with news tickers and all:
When it comes to doing background research on your speaker, I’ve had a lot tougher gigs than watching clips of stand-up comedy. I felt I had a pretty good handle on the President. At the time of drafting the speech, back in October, I had been doing some fairly stressful work in Westminster. Reflecting on what a mess everything was, I thought maybe the dictator could call for a halt to the dramatic change swirling all around us. I hung everything on that peg really, and threw in all the tricks of the trade I could think of. I shared the draft with two close friends who always give me the best, most honest feedback and then in it went.
I have written a lot of high profile speeches in my time, but sharing your work with speechwriters you really respect is still a nerve-wracking experience. And so it was with great surprise and not a little pride that I found out I’d won through a flurry of Twitter mentions.
Brian Jenner who runs the competition, and the European Speechwriter Network, has blogged on the process of running the contest:
Brian also appears in this video with President Obonjo himself, picking out the winning entry. It seems as though dictators are difficult to please… who knew!