Sounding the part: Daggy dad Morrison vs climate warrior Shorten

Scott Morrison, surprise winner in the Australian national elections last weekend, gave every public speaker a lesson in how to match our words to the persona we’re trying to project. He wanted to be seen as a “daggy dad”, so throughout his campaign he used the simple, homely words of exactly that, a daggy dad. … More Sounding the part: Daggy dad Morrison vs climate warrior Shorten

Royal rhetoric – Emperor Naruhito, King Rama X and Prince William

Blame Shakespeare! A new monarch steps up to the throne,and we expect some lofty rhetoric worthy of the occasion. As we saw last week in Japan and Thailand, the rise of a new dynastic ruler is a rare moment of pomp and pageantry at which personal destiny and national history coincide spectacularly. But it would … More Royal rhetoric – Emperor Naruhito, King Rama X and Prince William

Speaking off-the-cuff – Macron in front of Notre Dame

As Notre Dame cathedral blazed behind him last Monday, French president Emmanuel Macron delivered a master class in how to improvise a speech. His four-minute address to television reporters was unprepared but clearly structured, tight in its delivery, and to-the-point in its conclusion. For any public speaker, an off-the-cuff speech is fraught with peril. The … More Speaking off-the-cuff – Macron in front of Notre Dame

Using props in a speech  – French and US politicians brandish the bizarre 

Thinking of using a prop during your speech? Please don’t! As you will see from recent examples on both sides of the Atlantic, using a prop will just: make you look childish; distract from your words; obscure your message. France kicked off its campaign for the forthcoming European elections last week with a marathon three-hour … More Using props in a speech  – French and US politicians brandish the bizarre 

Delivering effective one-liners: People’s protest placards pack a punch

From the start, Brexit has pitched the raw power of direct democracy against the time-honoured, but sometimes arcane, traditions of parliamentary representation. Last Saturday’s “Put It To The People” march in London showed that both sides of the showdown are masters of public expression, each in their own way. Parliamentary debates in Westminster have long … More Delivering effective one-liners: People’s protest placards pack a punch

The power and perils of metaphor: monkeys in Brussels & codpieces in Westminster

The power of a metaphor lies in its ability to clarify a complex issue. The peril is that it introduces non-related themes which can obscure what is really at stake. To illustrate the point, consider a couple of Brexit-related metaphors from two public speakers in the news last week. One was rude but effective, the … More The power and perils of metaphor: monkeys in Brussels & codpieces in Westminster

Learning from the Oscars: Do’s & Don’ts for public speakers

Surely we should be able to learn something useful from the world’s most acclaimed cinema stars and directors. Here below are ten points that aspiring public speakers might retain from last night’s Oscars ceremony in Hollywood. (You’ll find links to each speech embedded in the winner’s name.) Do craft your opening line for impact. “I’m … More Learning from the Oscars: Do’s & Don’ts for public speakers

Emmanuel Macron’s hands and how to improve your own gestural vocabulary

Public speakers fretting about what to do with their hands should take a look at Emmanuel Macron’s style. The French President has been barnstorming around the country in recent weeks, holding marathon town-hall sessions in an attempt to quell the populist anger behind the recent “gilets jaunes” protests. Those protests continue, to be sure, but … More Emmanuel Macron’s hands and how to improve your own gestural vocabulary

Calls to action: Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough in Davos

The two Davos speeches that rang most loudly round the world last week were the urgent calls for climate change action from a 16-year-old and a 92-year-old. Each of those two speakers has a manner entirely their own, reflecting their age and experience: one an intense Swedish teenager awkwardly reading her text to an assembled … More Calls to action: Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough in Davos

Speakers of the Houses – Pelosi’s poise vs Bercow’s burlesque  

The political tumult in both the UK and the US is focusing attention on each country’s Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives and John Bercow in the House of Commons. The two officials may have similar titles, but their roles are very distinct and – our focus here – they … More Speakers of the Houses – Pelosi’s poise vs Bercow’s burlesque