Opinion / Writing and Language

Amazing Public Speaking! Or Not

Say you’re Mary, a woman executive. Clever. Doing well. Rising fast. Ambitious. Self-confident. I can do this! You give a TEDx talk. Fame! It turns out to be like many (most?) TEDx talks. The faux-jokey ‘strong start’. The almost desperate attempt to be NEW and INTERESTING. Over-rehearsed. Contrived. Formulaic. Not-so-subliminally […]

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Starting a Speech by Being Funny

This is my most popular answer on Quora with over 20,000 views, replying to an interesting question: What is the funniest opening line that you have heard (or said) in a public speech? Hmm. Right Ho, Jeeves “Boys,” said Gussie, “I mean ladies and gentlemen and boys, I do not […]

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Back to Toastmasters

You recall my exciting controversial Toastmasters adventures earlier this year? Here and then here. A member of a Vienna Toastmasters club who joined one of my ‘live’ masterclasses on Public Speaking kindly invited me to address her club when I was next in town. I warned her that I had […]

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Writing a Record of Conversation

One of the darker diplomatic and wider professional arts is writing a record of a conversation. There’s a lot going on here: what to summarise – the words, the context, the ‘tone’, the silences? how in principle to summarise it – should the material be presented in the order it was spoken, […]

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Toastmasters Evaluated (2)

+++ Update +++ See Brian Jenner’s positive tale on Toastmasters and their rituals here. As you can see, my education is complete! * * * * * My piece on Toastmasters has attracted some modest interest, including in the Comments and via LinkedIn. Both Against and For. Against I came, […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (4)

You’re all sick of this subject. But via helpful Manfred Rosenbauer on Twitter we get what look like the FCO’s ipsissima verba so why not record them here? This is a Diplomatic Note Verbale. It’s forms of courtly courtesy go back centuries. No-one knows what a Note that is non-Verbale might look like. […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (3)

Over at Craig Murray, one John Spencer-Davis has been arguing with me re J Assange’s diplomatic status: Let’s deal first with your point about Article 38 – I have already answered it, but you may have missed that. “Except insofar as additional privileges and immunities may be granted by the receiving […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (2)

+++ UPDATE +++ I have changed my mind about the A38 point mentioned below. See my next posting here. * * * * *  Craig Murray (of course) weighs in in favour of Ecuador’s apparent claim (or at least request) that J Assange is now an Ecuador diplomat entitled to […]

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Toastmasters Evaluated

Over on Quora in the broad Public Speaking area you can’t move without someone extolling Toastmasters. Have nerves? Lack confidence? Join Toastmasters! Need to practise your oratory away from a mirror? Join Toastmasters! What is this phenomenon? The fons et origo: Do you want to become a confident public speaker […]

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Philosophy, Words, Thinking

I’m thinking Philosophy as such. I’ve even bought Anthony Kenny’s masterpiece and started to plough through it. Those ancient Greeks were oddly smart. What happened? That said, I am getting annoyed by The Partially Examined Life. It turns out that they have all sorts of parochial US liberal academic biases and […]

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