Calls to action in public speaking: the fallen French candidates

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

Zelensky speaks to, not at, his audience

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

Zelensky’s armoury of rhetoric

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

Making a mistake is easy; admitting it in public, less so.

We all make mistakes, of course. Fortunately, we don’t all have to confess them in public. Just in case you ever find yourself in that uncomfortable position, here’s a look at what we can learn from three public figures recently confronted with their errors. One stonewalled, one sniffled, one stood tall. The least edifying of … More Making a mistake is easy; admitting it in public, less so.

Want to speak like General de Gaulle? Tips for French presidential wannabes.

Earlier this month, French politicians of left and right flocked to Charles de Gaulle’s home to pay homage on the 51st anniversary of his death. The spectacle of no fewer than seven candidates for next year’s presidential election jostling to stand in the great man’s shadow lacked some of the grandeur the General was ever … More Want to speak like General de Gaulle? Tips for French presidential wannabes.

How to ask tough questions: US Congress vs Big Oil and Big Tobacco

The sharper the question, the straighter the answer. Here’s a case in point for any students of interview technique: The US Congress’s Oversight Committee tried to skewer Big Oil executives last week for “deception and delay” in acknowledging their role in climate change. The hearing failed to land a “gotcha” moment. The main reason? Too … More How to ask tough questions: US Congress vs Big Oil and Big Tobacco

Tennis & rhetoric: Raducanu’s “process & mindset”

Two feisty teenagers wowed the crowds in the weekend’s women’s US Open final. Not just tennis fans were impressed: even students of public speaking learned something. Standing together on court after a grueling match, each of the young women delivered brief but remarkably clear and well-structured remarks to the packed stadium. The winner, Emma Raducanu, … More Tennis & rhetoric: Raducanu’s “process & mindset”

The Rhetoric of defeat – Bay of Pigs, Saigon, Kabul

Many commentators have compared the current American evacuation of Kabul to the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and the Fall of Saigon in 1975. What follows is a critical look at how the three US Presidents in office at the time each addressed the nation in a time of national humiliation. In each case, I … More The Rhetoric of defeat – Bay of Pigs, Saigon, Kabul