UK Business Communicator of the Year, 2013

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild emerged in 2009 to raise the profile of speechwriters and improve standards of speaking in public life. We now have over 100 members. We have launched a prize to be awarded to an outstanding figure in the business world who speaks well.

This is the fourth year that judges from the UK Speechwriters’ Guild have selected the Business Communicator of the Year. The winner in February 2010 was Sir Martin Broughton, Chairman of British Airways. The winner in February 2011 was Geoff Burch, the motivational business speaker and author. The winner in 2012 was Gillian Tett, the financial journalist.

The Business Communicator of the Year receives a small trophy with an engraved plate. This can be presented at the winner’s convenience but we do encourage the winner to receive the award at one of our conferences (London 16 May, Brussels 20 September 2013).

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild hosts regular conferences to showcase top speakers and share knowledge and ideas. Speakers have included Phil Collins, Tony Blair’s former speechwriter, Edward Mortimer, former speechwriter to Kofi Annan and Fred Metcalf, David Frost’s scriptwriter.

The Winner 2013
Most of the business news we’re hearing is gloomy and dispiriting. The advertising executive, Rory Sutherland, has emerged in recent years with entertaining anecdotes and ideas to give entrepreneurs heart and make business fun.
David Ogilvy once said: “I only make a couple of speeches a year but they’re designed to cause the maximum stir on Madison Avenue.”: Mr Sutherland retains some of that provocative flair.
The UK Speechwriters’ Guild has awarded Rory Sutherland the prize of UK Business Communicator 2013 for three reasons:
The first is that he communicates with style. He uses self-deprecating humour to talk about business. He makes dull concepts, colourful, by drawing observations from familiar experience. And he can craft smart one-liners, like: ‘Saving is consumerism needlessly postponed’.
He has a schtick, but he’s always funny, clear and thought-provoking. You don’t mind hearing many of his stories over and over because he tells them rather beautifully. Politicians and CEOs would be wise to copy his formula.
The second reason he gets the prize is because his talks make him a great ambassador for his company. He has expressed a fear of public speaking, but he has overcome it. As Vice Chairman of the Ogilvy Group, he doesn’t make apologies about not representing the views of his employers. His presentations to the Californian conference TED attract millions of viewers, reaching audiences beyond specialists in advertising.
The third reason is because he uses the ancient art of persuasion. His material can be challenging, but he is likeable. He champions psychology over number crunching. He’s the first British business leader we’ve heard quote Charlie Munger, who we think is one of the best American business speakers.
Mr Sutherland‘s good example illustrates how wasteful it is to try to engage audiences with Excel spreadsheets and complex PowerPoint slides. He spreads optimism with insights like, ‘recession is the mother of invention’ and ‘human understanding is the future of business and Government’. These are the kind of sentiments that entertain audiences. Business leaders like Mr Sutherland, who can inspire audiences to try new things, will ultimately lead the way out of recession.

Brian Jenner
Chairman of the Judges, UK Speechwriters’ Guild
February 2013


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