Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr Max Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation

European Speechwriter Network & UK Speechwriters' Guild

Wednesday, 25 November 2015 from 18:30 to 20:30 (GMT)

This event is open to anyone who has been inspired by the work of Dr Max Atkinson.
Join us for the presentation of Dr Max Atkinson's Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the understanding of speechwriting and public speaking.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston

Graham Davies

Phil Collins
Over wine and nibbles, you can circulate with others who share the unusual expertise of putting words into someone else's mouth.
The ticket includes wine and nibbles and speeches from top people who have been influenced by Max's ideas.

The UK Speechwriters’ Guild supports the professional development of speechwriters by organising conferences and training.

Our purpose is to:
  • show the value of good speechwriting to individuals and organisations
  • invite the best speechwriters to explain their craft
  • share trade information, with hints, tips and examples of fine speechwriting

We want to shape a thriving international industry.

We welcome new members and those wishing to develop the skills of speechwriting and public speaking for professional purposes.

For more details go to:
Do you have questions about Dr Max Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation?Contact European Speechwriter Network & UK Speechwriters' Guild

NGOs in Putin's Russia

I have just been invited to a conference in Oxford. The reply to my request for more details went as follows:

Dear Professor Atkinson,

Thank you so much for your interest in our seminar. It'd be a great honor for us if you decide to join our debates in Oxford in January. My only concern is that I can hardly be more specific about the audience at this stage. There will be around 80-90 journalists from different regions of Russia (relatively young, average age 35). The group is now being composed, and as soon as my colleagues give me more information, I'll be happy to share it with you. 

As for the School, we are an NGO based in Moscow, but forced to organize most of our seminars abroad due to the latest law on foreign agents. 

We've been holding seminars on Media and society for the last 20 years, and we believe we represent a unique source of top level Russian expertise, and the strongest of our experts are our journalists. We gather (especially for this seminar) young journalists from all over Russia and post soviet space (Eastern Europe including) and give floor to the best experts and journalists so that they could discuss all the vital issues. Our seminars are built the way that experts give a short talk (20-30 min) followed up by an hour of discussion. We also include panel debates, round tables, screenings and meeting film directors.

Yours sincerely
I--- B-------------

Vaguely puzzled by this, I sent a copy to my brother, who has a degree in Russian and follows events there more closely than most media commentators in the UK.

His reply:

What fantastic proof of your standing in the field. Very impressed.

NGO (non government organisations) are such an interesting story in Russia. They are now all but banned as the Putin govt regards them as foreign agents. The first major casualty was the British Council which I believe was headed by Kinnock junior. 

Russian journalists are very brave. They suffer from intimidation and even murder. Anna Politkovskaya was an example.

Good luck with your lifetime award presentation next week.
D and B!!!

Lifetime Achievement Award: letter from an 80+ year old friend

Recently, I received a personal letter from someone I first met over 30 years ago. At the risk of sounding as though I'm blowing my own trumpet, a slightly edited version is reproduced here:

'Dear Max

'Congratulations on being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the UK Speechwriters' Guild. It seems to me I knew you as a boy when you came to the Political communication conference at the University of Essex and I met you for the first time. I would have thought then that it shouldn't have taken so long to receive such an award, given your training of your protege, Ann Brennan, to test the water at the SDP Party Conference in Buxton. Her standing ovation was in itself a Lifetime Achievement Award.

'And I know someone had to teach Paddy Ashdown how to speak in short sentences, beginning with a subject, adding a verb and closing in the object of the sentence. I wish more politicians, indeed more graduates, would read your books.

'I am sorry that I will not be there to cheer you on, particularly when you use your own techniques to ensure a rousing round of applause.


' Sir R----- W-------- KBE DL.'

The full story of how an appearance at the conference referred to by RW changed my life was told in 10 episodes in this blog a few years ago - HERE:

What was not mentioned there was that, before I had finished presenting my paper at the conference, RW passed me a note saying: 'I must have a copy of your book to review in my column in The Times.' 

Whether or not he did review it in that newspaper, I don't know. But our paths have crossed in interesting ways over the years since then - and I am grateful to him for quite a lot of things that he and I both remember....

Bonfire night, halloween and goodbye to "penny for the Guy"???

For former pupils of St Peter's School, York like me, 5th November is an annual reminder of our deprived childhood.

Because Guy Fawkes also went to the school, as too did some of the other gunpowder plotters, bonfires and fireworks were banned - on the grounds that burning an old boy was deemed to be 'bad form'.

Some years ago, whilst listening to some primary school children reading on 5th November, my wife told one of the children that her husband had gone to the same school as Guy Fawkes.

"Oh" said the child, "Did he know him?"

It seems that Bonfire night has been progressively eclipsed by Halloween night - a rather new import from the USA. The first time I heard "trick or treat" was about 35 years ago, and that was only because we lived near a US air base in Oxfordshire - and were visited by American children. 

The whole thing now seems to have got completely out of hand with fancy dress, pointed hats and pumpkin lanterns. There have even been some nasty accidents with cheap outfits catching fire. But not as many as there once were when anyone of any age could buy as many bangers and rockets as they liked.

So maybe we Old Peterites now have a valid reason for not bothering to feel deprived about not going out on a cold wet night to watch a fireworks display. 

I do still miss children asking for "a penny for the Guy?" - which i haven't heard for quite a few years.....

POPPIES and the British Legion


It is now more than 5 years since I first notified the British Legion about how they could collect even more cash than usual - and yet more in this centenary year of the outbreak of WW1 - but they have still failed to take any notice of my sound advice. See here

If you agree, how about mentioning it to them, if only because they appear to be a bit hard of hearing?

This year it's got worse than ever. They've ignored their long standing collectors and sent out 'free' adverts in the post (presumably to a mass audience at great expense) asking for a £10 donation.

My point was - and still is - that the slits on collection boxes shout out for coins rather than notes. It's really difficult to fold up a £10 note to get it through. It would also help if the boxes were made of Perspex, so that potential donors could see a few notes rather than listen to a few coins rattling around in the tin.

Having written to the British Legion HQ several times, I have yet to receive a reply...