Opinion / Writing and Language

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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Starting a Speech (Continued)

My post on the (ab)use of quotations in speeches prompted this comment from always alert reader Nigel Sedgwick: Charles is IMHO likely amongst the very best current advisors on speechmaking. But I must challenge him on a bit of material missing from his latest offering. The word spoken and heard […]

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President Trump Saudi Speech

Here is my piece for Vital Speeches analysing President Trump’s major foreign policy speech in Saudi Arabia, comparing it to the rambling didactic speech by President Obama in Cairo in 2009. Key opening point: This speech is 3402 words long. The Obama speech in 2009 had a sprawling 6050 words […]

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Cicero Awards 2017: Why?

I’m delighted to say that I have won another Cicero Award, this time for a speech I prepared for Tony Ennis of ecoLegacy on the maybe unsettling theme of ‘green cremations’. The award page is here. Scroll down and you can see my winning speech in the category Environment/Energy/Sustainability. The […]

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Trump v Putin: Negotiation in Action

Yesterday’s meetings in Moscow between US Secretary of State Tillerson and President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov were a front-rank example of top diplomacy in action, the more so as while that was happening intense discussions continued at the UN over a new (doomed) Syria UNSC resolution that Russia duly […]

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