Death by PowerPoint

Imagine it is August 28th 1963 and you have traveled to Washington DC to hear Martin Luther King Speak. He’s 30 minutes into his presentation and he says, ‘now as you can see on section C of slide 37….’ It just wouldn’t be the same. This is because slides ruin good speeches. In fact, countless good speeches have been butchered by the pestilence known as PowerPoint. I’ve sat through many ‘talks’ in which the speaker at some stage or other started reading the illegibly small text from slide 42 with their back facing an unenthused audience who can barely conceal their boredom. Ironically, in most cases, PowerPoint is neither powerful nor to the point. Continue reading “Death by PowerPoint”

Advertisements

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”

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?”

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?”

Game of Rhetoric: A rhetorical commentary on Cersei Lannister’s speech

This rhetorical commentary of Cersei Lannister’s speech is written purely as an exercise for identifying uses of classical rhetoric in modern popular culture. Rhetoric is used in discourse all the time; it is used in speeches, movies, books, articles and even TV shows about dragons!

If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones, it will still make sense as I have quoted the script and you don’t need much context. If you are currently watching Game of Thrones and haven’t watched up to Season 7 Episode 2 then I suggest you stop reading now (spoiler alert)!

This speech is an example of a philippic which is an aggressive attack on someone’s ethos (this is also known as ad hominem).

Continue reading “Game of Rhetoric: A rhetorical commentary on Cersei Lannister’s speech”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos

Ethos, logos and pathos are often celebrated as the Three Musketeers of Rhetoric. However, they can be much more menacing than people realise. They distort logic, they cloud reason and they manipulate judgment.

Ethos is probably one of the most commonly used and least commonly detected forms of rhetoric. Ethos is when a speaker attempts to invoke authority or credibility (either over themselves or someone else) to persuade an audience. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos”