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”

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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”

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?”

A Rhetorical Review of PMQs

Summer recess is over so parliament is back and with it comes Prime Minister’s Questions! To many people, PMQs seems like one of the crazy side effects of democracy. Politicians jeering, waving papers and making snide comments whilst devolving into a tribal state of savagery. This anthropological debacle is chaired by the speaker, who like a toothless beast has to control the chamber with nothing but howls. It is worthy enough to be a David Attenborough documentary. Continue reading “A Rhetorical Review of PMQs”

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”