Opinion / Writing and Language

Balkan Borders (1)

Here is my former colleague (ex-ambassador to Belgrade, Dublin and Rome) Sir Ivor Roberts opining on Balkan borders: Sir Ivor said that while multi-ethnic states might be the ideal, in practice the exchange of the Presevo Valley in Serbia for land in Kosovo north of the river Ibar might be […]

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Teleprompters? No thanks!

Here is an interesting piece by Nana Ariel at Aeon about the history and ‘meaning’ of teleprompters: Jess Oppenheimer, the producer of the TV show I Love Lucy (1951-57), filed the patent for a mirror extension that reflected the printed text on a transparent board in front of the camera, […]

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Negotiating Brexit – Article 50

I’ve been quiet on all the Brexit agendas latterly. Too much going on as I eke (eeeek) out a living. But a reader writes: In my view the UK has walked into a trap by agreeing to exercise article 50 at the start. It is clearly not fit for purpose. […]

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President Trump’s Inaugural Speech

Here’s a brief take on President Trump’s inaugural speech that I wrote for The Ambassador Partnership’s Insight series: The inaugural address of a new US President typically answers two questions: What and How. First, to set down unambiguous policy markers: to spell out in broad but more or less specific […]

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Theresa May’s Philadelphia Speech

Here is the official text of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s well received speech to senior Republicans in Philadelphia. And, if you want to see how she delivered it, here she is: This speech has had unusual profile. Mrs May is the first foreign leader to meet President Trump at […]

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(Not) Using Quotations in Speeches

My book Speeches for Leaders quoted from The Dullard’s Guide to International and Diplomatic Speechwriting on starting a speech with platitudes about the history of bilateral relations: It doesn’t matter much which examples the speechwriter pulls out from the bran tub of history for this purpose. A couple of solid, obvious, and […]

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What a Mug! Speeches for Leaders

Just to say that THIS was a v welcome and unexpected Christmas gift: You can get such clever customised mugs from the Literary Gift Company (sometimes). Plus of course the real thing is here: Stock up now for next Christmas. Or give yourself a New Year vital public speaking boost.

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Amazon Space: Trust Between Strangers

When I rebooted my website a while back, I took out my 2008 thoughts on Amazon Space and the human and operational limits to Trust. Let’s get it back here. It still reads nicely enough (Wait … huh? What’s a PDA?). The screams of Aleppo are now coming directly into […]

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From Kaliningrad to Mladićgrad

DIPLOMAT has my latest article, featuring the final cable I sent to London from Warsaw as I ended my FCO career in autumn 2007. Once upon a time there were Valedictory Despatches. The Despatch was an interesting diplomatic genre, an extended essay sent by an Ambassador that looked more deeply/thematically […]

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Public Speaking: Surprise!

A reader reasonably asks about this: How to give a great speech/presentation, or at least a damn good one? That usually means thinking hard about what this audience needs and wants and expects – and then doing something else. The underlying idea here is the central importance of Surprise in […]

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