Dear speech-fans and friends,


How to catch the audience’s attention?

Speechwriters’ and speakers’ recurring question.

Our selection this month focuses on refreshing openings, tangible examples, and ceremonial speeches and how they throw light on our challenges today.


You may also like to listen to a selection of Nobel Peace Lectures, in French and English, gathered by the radio station France culture in these times between the announcement of the Nobel Prizes (early October) and the Lectures to come (early December).


Even better, let’s meet! Our fellow speechwriter Jan Sonneveld – whom I met at the World conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association in Washington earlier this month – will be in town on November 25th. Save your lunchbreak to meet this talented colleague (see his Vital speech: How Speechwriting Changed Me, or his Twitter and Tumblr). A « save-the-date » is following this mail.


Enjoy the reading, the listening, and the networking.



A selection of refreshing openings:


Everyone here will have noted that the European Union has had a lot of media coverage in the past months – and not all of it flattering.

We have heard a lot about the Greek crisis and we have seen and heard about hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking shelter from war-torn areas, and many more displaced in neighbouring countries.

Something which has given space to numerous articles, radio and TV coverage throughout not only Europe but the rest of the world.

Europe’s responses are watched closely all over the world. And I believe that all our responses will have profound implications for Europe’s future and our place in the world.

But beyond the news and the front page headlines, we also get a lot of work done. We do have a European Union that works; takes decisions; and delivers. But a working machine room generally does not make it to the headlines.

This is something important both for Europe and for the rest of the World.

Commissioner Vestager, The Values of Competition Policy, 13 October 2015


Kept indoors during the French revolutionary years − and in search of a worthwhile distraction − a young Parisian called Sophie Germain turned to studying her father's library. From intellectual works like Montucla's Histoire des Mathématiques, Sophie soon discovered a deep love and a remarkable talent for mathematics. Though her alarmed parents took away her warm clothes, and refused to light a fire in her bedroom, Sophie wrapped herself in blankets and continued to study mathematical theorems into the night by candlelight. (…).

Ladies and gentlemen, though every barrier imaginable was thrown in her path, Sophie Germain succeeded through hard work and perseverance: educating herself, hiding her true identity and withstanding the social pressure to conform to traditional expectations.

What I take from her story is that there have always been barriers to thought and innovation, but those barriers can be overcome.

Commissioner Moedas, Innovation Potential in the Digital Age, 21 October 2015


It is a particular pleasure to be able to congratulate this year's winner Ross Murdoch for an excellent and thoughtful essay. And yes, as this is an event to promote ethics, I feel I should make clear I did actually read it. I didn't outsource it. Or give it to a compliance officer to read. I read it myself, which seems to me in the spirit

Commissioner Hill, 2015 Award for the Robin Cosgrove Prize for Ethics, 15 October 2015



Make it concrete, tangible:


At the bottom of all forms of hatred, is the fact that you are targeted purely for who you are. No matter what you do, or what you say, you are targeted for who you are, something you can do nothing about. It's just who you are. Whether it's being scared of wearing your headscarf in public places, or covering your kippa with a baseball cap. Not being able to go about your daily business without a knot in your stomach, knowing the casual insults, the jokes, the abuse won't go away. The fear that your child's school, your local supermarket might be targeted by people who hate you for who you are.

First Vice-President Timmermans, First Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, 1 October 2015


Let me give you three examples.

One interesting company is Partenope Fruits. It's a small firm in Buzau county that already successfully sells cherries to customers in New York. (…)

Or take Denis Shoes. It's a family business in Vicovu de Sus, a town in North East Romania. (…)

Finally, what about a larger company like Antibiotice SA? It's a global leader, for a number of key medicines and already ships its products to the US and around the world. It's a major Romanian success story. But it's another good example of how TTIP can help.

Commissioner Malmström, TTIP: Why it is ggod for Romania, 16 October 2015



A selection of commemorating speeches:


Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the aftermath of it.  We've become numb to this (…)

I hope and pray that I don't have to come out again during my tenure as President to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances.  But based on my experience as President, I can't guarantee that.  And that's terrible to say.  And it can change.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today.  May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back.  And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.

President Obama, on the Shootings at Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon, 1 October 2015


I am looking very much forward to your speech today. It is an important speech during these difficult times for Europe, when we are called upon to deal with the epochal challenge of migration. And a timely speech, as this year, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the accession treaty of Spain to the European community.

Anniversaries are always times of stock taking of past failures and successes but also times for making plans for the future.

European Parliament President Schulz welcoming King Felipe VI, 7 October 2015


(English below)

im November 1989 sprachen zum letzten Mal ein französischer Präsident und ein deutscher Bundeskanzler gemeinsam vor dem Europäischen Parlament. François Mitterrand und Helmut Kohl ergriffen kurz nach dem Mauerfall hier in Straßburg das Wort. Beide spürten die sich abzeichnenden Umbrüche in Deutschland und in Europa. Beide zeigten sich von diesen Umbrüchen tief bewegt. Beide bekannten sich in diesen Stunden mit klaren Worten dazu, gemeinsame europäische Antworten zu finden.  (…)

Meine Damen und Herren, heute dürfen der französische Präsident François Hollande und ich zu Ihnen sprechen. Ich danke Ihnen, Herr Parlamentspräsident, für diese Einladung. Wir sprechen in einer Zeit, in der Europa wieder eine große Herausforderung zu bewältigen hat. Es ist eine Bewährungsprobe historischen Ausmaßes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the European Parliament, 7 October 2015, In German


(In English)

The last time a French President and a German Chancellor jointly addressed the European Parliament was in November 1989. François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl spoke together here in Strasbourg shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Both of them felt that great changes were about to sweep Germany and Europe. Both of them were deeply moved by this wind of change. Both of them clearly expressed their commitment to responding with joint European solutions (…)

Ladies and gentlemen, today the French President François Hollande and myself have been given the privilege of addressing you. I would like to thank the President of the European Parliament for this kind invitation. Now, again, Europe is facing a tremendous challenge. We are facing a test of historic proportions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the European Parliament, 7 October 2015, In English