The Kings’ Speeches: Juan Carlos I and Felipe VI

Paris, 23th October 2017 King Felipe VI of Spain addressed his nation earlier this month to condemn the Catalan authorities’ demand for independence. His tough speech, a clear call for the rule of law, echoed his father’s famous 1981 condemnation of an attempted coup d’état. King Juan Carlos I’s two-minute televised speech 36 years ago … More The Kings’ Speeches: Juan Carlos I and Felipe VI

Public speakers vs pranksters: May, Trump, FIFA & VW

At least Theresa May got something right last week. Any public speaker in the news may fall victim to a prankster. Mrs May showed how one should confront such unexpected disruption with calm and, ideally, a quick wit. British comedian Simon Brodkin has made a name for himself with his goofy pranks at the podium. … More Public speakers vs pranksters: May, Trump, FIFA & VW

The Science of Pep Talks: Henry V, Al Pacino and LeBron James

Public speaking now ranks as a science, at least when it comes to pep talks. Academics at a Texas university studying “Motivating Language Theory” for the last three decades have identified a tripartite formula for a successful motivational talk, according to an article in last month’s edition of the Harvard Business Review. Their findings, which … More The Science of Pep Talks: Henry V, Al Pacino and LeBron James

How (not) to give a TV interview: Bell vs Thatcher

Paris, 11th September 2017 Margaret Thatcher’s most famous spin doctor Tim Bell gave a master class last week in how not to conduct a television interview. He should have taken lessons in how to deal with straight questions about dubious ethics from the late Mrs Thatcher herself. Faced with a similarly tough TV interview back … More How (not) to give a TV interview: Bell vs Thatcher

John McCain, the last American rhetorician?

Paris, 31st July 2017 Strange to say, there’s still some uplifting rhetoric to be heard out of the US political maelstrom these days. In a quietly dignified speech last week, John McCain called on the Senate to pull together to defend the public good. It was statesman-like rhetoric at its best, eloquently restating the self-evident … More John McCain, the last American rhetorician?

Eulogies: Weaving the humanity into the historic – Clinton & Veil.

Paris, 17th July 2017 Two remarkable Europeans were buried in the last couple of weeks; both received eulogies worthy of their status, models of the genre for any student of rhetoric. Bill Clinton spoke in the European Parliament over the coffin of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and French lawyer Jean Veil spoke in the … More Eulogies: Weaving the humanity into the historic – Clinton & Veil.

Delivering someone else’s speech: Queen Elizabeth II vs Beyoncé

Paris, 3rd July 2017 Making a speech on behalf of another person is not the easiest form of public speaking.  Queen Elizabeth II and Beyoncé have both been faced with exercises of such vicarious rhetoric recently. Ever eager to learn from the best, I suggest we look at how they fared. Let’s start in the … More Delivering someone else’s speech: Queen Elizabeth II vs Beyoncé

Apologies, regrets and contrition: Getting it right.

By Charles Fleming – Paris, 22nd May 2017 Saying sorry in public is never easy. Clumsy rhetoric can make it even rougher. There has been a spate of public apologies recently and many have made a difficult situation worse because of poor preparation and delivery. Here is a look at a few of them. The … More Apologies, regrets and contrition: Getting it right.