How to Listen to a Speech


I post often about how to give a speech.  But most of us also find ourselves on the receiving end of speeches too, and listening to them is nearly as hard work as giving them.  So how do you listen critically and well to a speech to get the most out of it, and avoid [...]

A Comparison of Two Inaugurals: Kennedy v Obama

President Kennedy gave 3 State of the Union addresses, and they are almost completely forgotten today.  His Inaugural Address, on the other hand, is cited frequently, and whenever great political speechmaking is discussed.  Rhetorically elegant, memorable, and inspirational, the speech deserves its iconic status. What will be the fate of President Obama’s Second Inaugural?  Will [...]

The 2012 Convention Speeches – the Highs, the Lows, and the Baffling

Analyzing the convention speeches for their rhetorical import has become a hazardous sport, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the political climate is so partisan that any commentary is immediately classed as merely pro or con a particular candidate or party and further discussion is useless.  Second, the rhetoric has become so pathetically [...]

How to tell powerful stories in your speeches

Story telling in speeches

Why tell stories in speeches? Because they are interesting, they help people remember what you say, and they are a good way to convey information and emotion memorably. Mark Turner, a writer and philosopher who has been associated with the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Center for Neural and Cognitive Sciences at the University [...]

Becoming a Passionate Communicator

In this podcast, #8 in the series based on Trust Me:  Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma, I talk about 4 ways of speaking that convey passion appropriately.  Passion — done right — creates charisma, and memorable communications.  This podcast is just under 5 minutes.  Enjoy! Trust Me Podcast 8

Why the debt limit talks are doomed – a rhetorical analysis

This is the 4th podcast in my series based on Trust Me:  Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma.  In this podcast I discuss open content — the rhetorical rules for an open communication.  In looking at these essential conditions for successful communication, I discuss why the debt limit talks are failing as currently undertaken.  The [...]

How to write a great speech: 5 secrets for success

David McCloud, the Chief of Staff of the Governor of Virginia, taught me how to write a great speech:  •    Great speeches are primarily emotional, not logical  •    Small shifts in tone make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details  •    A great speech has a clear voice speaking throughout•    A great [...]

What to do when the missiles are incoming

One of the hazards of speaking in public is that some percentage of the audience will not agree with you.  And some small percentage of that group will express itself physically.  Political figures most often run this risk, but anyone who represents an organization or cause faces a similar risk.  The most famous of such [...]

Basic principles of persuasive rhetoric – 7

Principle VII: Authenticity and charisma in content require self-revelation in this confessional age. Being willing to confess something, even if it’s small, is table stakes in this age, surrounded as we are by the no-holds-barred, tell-all, celebrity-infatuated media, which constantly dish up the most intimate details of the lives, real or imagined, of these people [...]

Basic Principles of Persuasive Rhetoric – 6

Principle VI: Persuasive communication cuts through the clutter of information overload by dealing with safety issues. Turn Maslow’s hierarchy of needs upside down in your mind. Maslow said that we take care of our needs in order, from the most basic to the more refined. So, we take care of physiological needs first — food [...]