Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv last week to deliver a powerful and moving speech in support of Ukraine. She was there the same day as Vladimir Putin delivered his rambling rant at a military parade in Moscow. Both speeches, delivered on Europe Day, 9th May, took their inspiration from the end of the Second World … More Ursula in Ukraine: structuring a speech for impact
Rishi Sunak clearly never received one of the most face-saving presentation training tips on offer: how to take control of a Q&A session when your audience clams up. After a speech last month about maths education in the UK, the Prime Minister asked his audience of students and teachers if they had any further questions … More No questions? Rishi fumbles in front of an unresponsive audience
Storytelling can certainly help any public speaker deliver a more memorable message, but here’s a word of warning: don’t overdo it. That was Joe Biden’s error last week in County Mayo, Ireland. His speech showed clearly how even the liveliest storytelling, poorly handled, can be too much of a good thing. Mr Biden’s long speech … More Joe Biden’s Irish stories: too much of a good thing?
Emmanuel Macron is generally a very skilled public speaker. Not this time. His television interview last week, as French demonstrators took to the streets against his pension reform law, was a case study in how not to speak to angry people. To be fair, the interview wasn’t all bad. He delivered a clear and logical … More How not to talk to angry people: Macron’s masterclass
At a dinner party in Paris last week, I overheard a remark that Brad Pitt was considered to have outshone his French counterparts at the recent César awards. Ever keen to learn from the best in public speaking, I went home and watched a clip of the ceremony. Big disappointment: Mr Pitt’s performance behind the prompter was poorly paced, clumsy, … More Speaking from a prompter? You can do better than Brad Pitt
Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon’s recent surprise resignation speeches were remarkably similar in content. Both ran through many near-identical points: knowing when it’s time to go; the best job in the world; no option but total commitment; humans are frail; no hidden skeletons in the cupboard; now’s not the time to thank everyone; deep love … More Who gave the best resignation speech, Ardern or Sturgeon?
I don’t mind who or what wrote your speech. But please, read it like a human. Late last month, US politician Jake Auchincloss scored a few headlines when he claimed to be the first person in Congress to deliver a speech entirely written by artificial intelligence. ChatGPT did a good-enough job on the text. No … More Reading an AI-generated speech as if you were human: Auchincloss vs ChatGPT
As the defeated candidates bowed out of the French presidential election yesterday, they each grappled with how to issue a call to action for their supporters ahead of the second round of voting on 24th April. A call to action is a key moment in any speech. The lesson from last night is to make … More Calls to action in public speaking: the fallen French candidates
Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent video appeals to Western lawmakers highlight a central tenet of effective rhetoric: speak to your audience, not at them.President Zelensky structured each of his addresses to the British Parliament, the US Congress, the German Bundestag and the Israeli Knesset around national references. For the UK it was Shakespeare and Churchill, in US it … More Zelensky speaks to, not at, his audience
Volodymyr Zelensky’s way with words is a formidable weapon in the war for his country’s and his own survival, rallying national and international support against Russia. His recent brave tweets from the streets of Kyiv, disproving Russian propaganda claims against him, displayed to the world his mastery of modern communications methods. He’s also an excellent … More Zelensky’s armoury of rhetoric