Dear speech-fans and -friends,

Welcome to the new readers who have subscribed to this monthly newsletter following the World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters’ Association in Washington DC from 16 to 18 October.

Each conference is different from the previous ones but the inspiration and motivation you get remain as high, from the keynote address to conversations with peers, new tips and insights on storytelling, voice, and ‘the nuclear bomb of rhetoric’ (ie metaphors, for better or for worse), professional advice from the most experienced and talented colleagues, to exchange with the laureates of the Cicero Speechwriting Awards.

There are more and more European speechwriters attending this gathering. That they attend this professional conference is a good omen for the future of European speeches.

I was invited to deliver the «state of speeches in Europe in 2017» speech. Looking back at the ones delivered over the last twelve months, our speeches are getting more and more to the heart of the matter :

Who are we ?

What are our values ?

What do we want to build together ?

The best lines delivered last month confirm this trend to existential questions: just look at the selection on:



It starts with a fair assessment:

Over the last years managing all these crises, we've been excessively pragmatic in communicating about them. Trying to convince people with PowerPoint presentations and graphics, saying: "We're doing better than you think... Yes, you might feel like that, but here are the numbers." And we've lost many people because of that.

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, (Re)thinking Europe, 27 October 2017 

Britain's referendum campaign was full of false arguments and unacceptable generalisations. But it would have been a big mistake to interpret the negative result exclusively as a symptom of British exceptionalism and Euroscepticism, because all over Europe, even moderate voters were asking "Is the European Union the answer to problems of instability and insecurity, or is it now standing in the way?"

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, Address to the European Committee of the Regions, 10 October 2017

What are our values ?

In Europe, after the Second World War, then after the end of dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece, and again after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have shaped our democratic societies on the basis of three principles: democracy, respect for the rule of law, and human rights. The three need each other. They cannot exclude each other. You cannot use one against the other. If you remove one pillar, then the others will fall too.

Respect for the rule of law is not optional: it is fundamental. If the law does not give you what you want, you can oppose the law, you can work to change the law, but you cannot ignore the law.

Watch the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, debate on Constitution, rule of law and fundamental rights in Spain in the light of the events in Catalonia, 4 October 2017

Read the full speech here


Le livre, l’intelligence du langage, son exigence, parfois son âpreté, ce qui nous fait revenir aux mots, c’est ce qui nous empêche d’être enfermés dans des identités qui sinon nous séparent. C’est ce qui empêche de céder à la peur, à la brutalité, à ce qui désunit. Le livre, c’est ce qui, passé de main en main, parole silencieuse de l’auteur au lecteur, permet de tenir ces consciences dans ce dialogue critique, émouvant, incessant. 

Retrouvez le discours intégral ici: Emmanuel Macron, Ouverture de la foire du livre de Francfort, 10 octobre 2017


In many parts of our world, people feel that they are surrounded by lies, manipulation and fake news. But I deeply believe that truth is invincible. And that this ceremony is also an expression of this invincibility.

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, 2017 Princess of Asturias Awards ceremony, 20 October 2017


Even the most successful system is never self sustaining and never invulnerable. After centuries of democracy, centuries of autocracy can follow. If you are not vigilant, do not adapt to new circumstances,

lose the urge to “learn it all”

and fall into the trap of “knowing it all”,

you might lose it all.

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, Unity in Diversity: what Hellenic Europe teaches us, 31 October 2017


Building the ethos to speak to both sides :

I appeal to you not only

as the President of the European Council,

but also as a strong believer in the motto of the EU: "United in diversity",

as a member of an ethnic minority and a regionalist,

as a man who knows what it feels like to be hit by a police baton.

And as a former prime minister of a big European country.

In brief, as someone who understands and feels the arguments and emotions of all sides.

(…) the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force.

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, Address to the European Committee of the Regions, 10 October 2017


So, yes, we are seeing some sun break through — but it is not a clear sky. There are two ways to approach a moment like this. The first is to sit back, enjoy the progress, and wait for the next crisis before making big changes. As a former finance minister, I understand the appeal of this path. Championing change just when things are getting back on track is not easy — especially when the benefits come further down the road and policymakers already feel reform fatigue.

Read or watch the full speech here: Christine Lagarde, A time to repair the roof, 4 October 2017


Who are we ?

(English below)

Wir feiern den Tag der Deutschen Einheit – wie jedes Jahr. Und wir feiern ihn zu Recht, den 3. Oktober, den Tag, an dem Ost und West in Deutschland wieder eins wurden.

Und doch ist in diesem Jahr etwas anders. Nicht nur Wolf Biermann, den ich zu Beginn zitiert habe, auch viele andere schauen mit Fragen, mit Sorgen, mit Verunsicherung auf die innere Einheit unseres Landes. Das ist die eine Seite des heutigen Tages. Sie ist deutlich zu spüren in diesem Jahr.

Wer ist das eigentlich – "wir Deutsche?"

Read the full speech (auf Deutsch) here: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Festakt zum Tag der Deutschen Einheit, 3 October 2017

Today, we celebrate the Day of German Unity – as we do every year. We have good reason to celebrate the 3 October, the day when East and West Germany again became one.

Yet, this year, something is different (…) Many (…) feel doubt, worry and insecurity when they look at internal cohesion in our country. That’s one aspect we should focus on today. It’s an undercurrent that can clearly be felt this year.

Whom do we mean by "we Germans"? 

Read the full speech (in English)  here: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ceremony to mark the Day of German Unity, 3 October 2017


Broaden the perspective

Thirteen years ago, on this campus, a young man invented a social media platform that would connect the world. But the next Mark Zuckerberg need not come from Harvard. With the right investments in education, she can come from the south side of Chicago, or Sri Lanka, or Senegal.

Read or watch the full speech here: Christine Lagarde, A time to repair the roof, 4 October 2017


Whom do they quote ?

Denis de Rougemont, the Swiss philosopher whom I referred to last time I was here, once said: "the knowledge of true danger may cure us of false fears". 

Quoted by Donald Tusk, Address to the European Committee of the Regions, 10 October 2017


Here is the question: Can the world seize the opportunity of the upswing to secure the recovery and create a more inclusive economy that works for all?

Fortunately, I came to the Kennedy School — and have found some inspiration from your namesake. Addressing Congress in 1962, about a year after the United States emerged from a recession, President Kennedy said: “Pleasant as it may be to bask in the warmth of recovery… the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

Read or watch the full speech here: Christine Lagarde, A time to repair the roof, 4 October 2017


Le défi qui est le nôtre est un peu celui qui était posé à Churchill durant la guerre lorsque l’un de ses ministres, lui expliquant qu’il fallait payer les canons, lui demandait d’aller baisser le budget de la culture et CHURCHILL avait eu cette réponse en lui disant : « Mais alors, à quoi bon nous battre ? » Il en est un peu de même pour ce qui est de la défense de nos droits fondamentaux.

Retrouvez le discours intégral ici: Emmanuel Macron, Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme, 31 octobre 2017



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