Winning the Toastmaster District 71 Humorous Speech Contest

I was recently crowned the District 71 Champion for the Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest. District 71 is made up of Scotland, Ireland and the majority of England and Wales.

The objective of the competition is simple: deliver a 5-7 minute humorous speech. Be funny. Make people laugh. Try not to embarrass yourself too much…. Sounds easy, right? Continue reading “Winning the Toastmaster District 71 Humorous Speech Contest”

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A write up of what went down at the ESN conference in Leuven

Last week I went to attend the European Speechwriter’s Network Conference in Leuven. Twice a year a collection of Europe’s top speechwriters gather for a conference to share ideas at one of the world’s most prestigious conferences for Speechwriters. This year the conference was chaired by Alexander Drechsel who is an Interpreter at the European Commission.

The first day of the conference was divided into three groups of training. I went to a workshop run by John Yorke to discuss how Hollywood screenwriters create a winning story and what speechwriters can learn from this. Continue reading “A write up of what went down at the ESN conference in Leuven”

Logic Part 1: Fun, fallacies and a dead flamingo

Logos (logic) is known to many people but understood by few. The danger with logic is that all it takes is a subtle distortion to produce a flawed, but very convincing argument. To understand logic properly we have to go back to the very basics.

Basic logical syllogisms

An argument using logic is often called a logical syllogism. Basic logical syllogisms will have a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion…

Major premise: All A is B

Minor premise: X is A

Conclusion: Therefore, X is B
Continue reading “Logic Part 1: Fun, fallacies and a dead flamingo”

Occultatio: Burritos, bandits and bit of banter

According to Cicero there are three types of speeches, deliberative (to persuade an audience), judicial (to present a case in a debate or argument), and epideictic (to give a ceremonial speech). Each type of speech has its own purpose, and each has its own secret weapons.

This post is going to focus on one of those weapons: occultatio. Occultatio is the rhetorical equivalent of sticking your nose in the air whilst slapping your opponent in the face with a leather glove. It’s sneaky, it’s sly, and we all love it! Continue reading “Occultatio: Burritos, bandits and bit of banter”

Is it ok to interrupt a speech?

A political party speech is an opportunity for party leaders to talk about their views and policies. It gives politicians a platform to rally their supporters and inform the public. It is therefore an important part of our political process and indeed of democracy.

The Prime Minister yesterday was speaking in a hall with thousands of people who wanted to hear what she has to say. Her colleagues in Brussels wanted to hear what she had to say. People across the United Kingdom wanted to hear what she had to say.

It is for that reason that I am not entirely comfortable with Simon Brodkin’s stunt to hand Theresa May a P45 document during the middle of her speech. People have told me that protest is part of the democratic process, and I would completely agree. However, there are proper and appropriate ways to protest that don’t interfere with the public’s right to be informed. Continue reading “Is it ok to interrupt a speech?”

Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations 2017

The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu had some strong words for Iran at his recent speech at the United Nations. Mirroring Churchill’s famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech Netanyahu spoke about the ‘Iranian curtain’ which is spreading terror across the Middle East. “Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel. Today, I have a simple message for Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator of Iran: The light of Israel will never be extinguished”. Continue reading “Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations 2017”

Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?

Is there a crisis in political rhetoric? The more you think about this question the more you realise just how gargantuan the can of worms you just opened is. Simply knowing how to strategically approach this questions is a mission within itself, and that was the focus of the recent workshop hosted by the Network of Oratory and Politics which took place at Queen Mary University in London on Wednesday 13th September.  Continue reading “Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?”