Opinion / Public Speaking and Speechwriting

Diplomatic Protocol Disasters

Time for a handy round-up of some excellent diplomatic protocol shockers. ‘Protocol’ at the highest level of state and in wider international contexts is interesting because it features all sorts of ‘solemnity’, dignity, respect, deference and other lofty virtues that have their place when the time is right. So when […]

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Diplomatic Visits

My piece at DIPLOMAT magazine on the trials and tribulations of organising diplomatic visits appears. Thus: Visits come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re largely symbolic– a senior gesture to show that the bilateral relationship is warm and alive, but not much more than that. Sometimes there’s serious diplomatic business […]

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Bad PowerPoint Rules

Peruse the Internet for advice on how to create a good PowerPoint presentation and you find different Rules. One famous Rule is the 10/20/30 rule promulgated by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki: It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than […]

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Wittgenstein, Trust and Diplomacy

Here is my new piece over at DIPLOMAT. On Trust and Diplomacy. With (of course) added Wittgenstein: President Trump is offering Kim Jong Un himself a superb deal based on trust: “If you work with us, be nice, loosen up and get rich, you can expect to stay in power for […]

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Public Speaking – Where to Start?

So there I was, giving a cheery masterclass in public speaking and presenting to international officials from different parts of the wide UN family. And I made an early fateful mistake. I asked them: “You’re asked to prepare a speech for your boss – where do you start?” A hand shot […]

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Giving a Speech: Who’s Next?

My latest public speaking victim reports from the battlefield: Excellent feed-back from various (incl very critical) people. The speech set the right tone for the conference. The organisers had kindly agreed to let me go last – which made a big difference. Ah! Here the task for Mr X was to […]

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Giving a Speech: Speaking Notes

I’ve been basking in my latest speechwriting glory that left the speaker mobbed on the evening and over breakfast the following morning: people pressing grateful congratulations, including people who praised her for ‘helping us think in a different way’. We talked yesterday – some of her points: I used to […]

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Faux Authenticity

Over on LinkedIn I stumble over Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly (sic) Authentic People. Complete with a picture of a toothsome massively haired young female for added clicks. Thus: To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a […]

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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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