Opinion / Writing and Language

Grenfell Tower – What Caused What?

The Grenfell Tower fire was a horrendous … what exactly? Accident? An ‘accident waiting to happen’? A ‘result of (gross) negligence’? A ‘consequence of austerity’? A ‘failure of capitalism’? The state doesn’t CARE: The stories are unbearable: the people screaming at the windows, the parents throwing their children from several floors […]

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Being Honest With Your Boss

A really difficult and sensitive issue in ‘management’ and ‘leadership’: how do junior colleagues tell senior colleagues that they’re (perhaps) not getting it right? One of my own most powerful life lessons on this came back in the early 1980s when I was a mere Second Secretary at the British […]

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Public Speaking – Using Contrast

Remember my piece on the use of Contrast in public speaking? Here is a long and interesting analysis by Rashid N. Kapadia of different sorts of contrast in a speech, including something that sounds like a drug for a painful ailment but is in fact a Greek figure of speech, antimetabole. […]

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ZOPA and Win-Win Negotiation

Rummage around in the acronym bran-tub of negotiation theory and you might well pull out ZOPA: the Zone of Possible Agreement. See a visualisation of that idea here. The idea of ZOPA is simple. Alex wants to buy a car. Blex has one to sell: Alex is ready to pay […]

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Speeches for Leaders

This has arrived from central Europe: Back in February you held a lecture which I attended and from where I departed with a signed copy of your book. Above your signature it said “Anyone can hold a good speech, if they read this book”. Two weeks later I finished the […]

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Quotations in Speeches

Remember my advice on using quotations in speeches? Basically, don’t. It’s too often either cliché ‘filler’ or an attempt to nab some glory from a far more distinguished person in the hope that a little of of sticks to the speaker. Over at Joyful Public Speaking Richard Garber has things […]

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Interviews: Start Strong – or Die

A while back I took part in a panel testing senior people preparing for interviews for top EU diplomatic jobs. What was striking if not astonishing was that it was obvious within a few seconds whether the person was going to be a strong candidate or not. There was something about […]

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Democracy and Technology

As well as the usual UK post-election party political wailing or gloating and general spinning, deeper things are going on. Here’s my theory. Namely that technology is making democratic government itself harder and harder. Eventually impossible? Think about it. Information technology in its current galloping form erodes categories, everywhere and […]

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GE2017: Message and Tone

Well. What a surprise. Remember my analysis of the Brexit referendum campaign? Thus: As loyal readers here know, it’s not what you say – it’s what they hear. The Remain campaign have aimed (with broad success) to corner the market in common sense steady-as-she-goes decency. Yet they somehow also exude […]

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Slaves and Whips

As this country totters towards its latest general elections amid successive Islamist terrorist murders, let’s look at the towering ‘speech’ (in fact the systematic private demolition of another erstwhile ‘friend, Peter Keating) by Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. Most of it is here. Thus: If you learn how to rule one […]

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