YPFP Brussels: The Art of Speechwriting

Posted on January 16, 2013

Jonathan Parish, Speechwriter to the NATO Secretary General, kicked off the first Tools of the Trade workshop of 2013 on Tuesday 15 January.

Over two hours 25 YPFP members learned all about the art of speechwriting, Mr Parish’s own experiences, and the peculiarities of speechwriting in an environment as international, multicultural and multilingual as Brussels.

Mr Parish immediately caught the attention of the group when he told them anecdotes about his background in the British army and was able to keep all participants on the edge of their seats for the remainder of the workshop – despite his own suggestion that a public audience is never captivated for more than twenty minutes.

The group learned about the five stages of speechwriting and how to go about these in a practical manner. This covered anything from rhetorical devices that were already used by the Ancient Greeks to sound bites and 140-character statements suitable for modern media. 

Different occasions ask for different types of speeches, and, by dismantling the format of the speech, participants were shown how to build these speeches themselves, piece by piece. The Tools of the Trade workshops are profoundly interactive in character, and the diverse backgrounds of the YPFP members present added to this dynamic.

After covering the theoretical side, participants were given an assignment to write a short speech for a specific event. Several of these speeches espoused genuine talent, and showed that Mr Parish’s tips were not lost on the group. 

Speechwriting skills can be a real asset for any young professional pursuing a career in foreign policy. It's hoped that the solid insights Mr Parish offered will help the participants to further their speechwriting abilities.