Opinion / Public Speaking and Speechwriting

President Trump in Poland

On 6 July President Trump gave a hefty speech in Warsaw. Here’s the official text. And here is a video of him delivering it. How was it as a speech? First, the speech is some 3700 words long, delivered in 36 minutes. Just over 100 words per minute. Quite a […]

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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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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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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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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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SIS4 – Iraq Inquiry

I found myself reading again the testimony of MI6 officer SIS4 to the Iraq Inquiry. The full text is here. Lots of his testimony is blacked out for operational security reasons. But there’s plenty left. It’s interesting as a rare example of someone with both huge experience and a dark […]

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