Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 199) – Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson (1919 - 1972) American Baseball Player

Jackie Robinson (1919 – 1972) American Baseball Player

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

— Jackie Robinson

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Analysis of a Speech by Monica Lewinsky

In 1998, news of a sexual scandal involving President Bill Clinton broke and spread around the world like wildfire. Clinton was accused of having lied about an affair that he had with a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. The affair and Clinton’s denial of it was the focus of federal inquiry in the US, resulted in the impeachment of the President by the House of Representatives, and became a media circus.

Through it all, Lewinsky was vilified and belittled. For several years following the incident and its aftermath, she was often in the press or media. In 2005, tired of constantly being in the spotlight, Lewinsky ended moved to the United Kingdom where she studied for, and received, a Master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics. Since then, she has lived largely out of the public eye.

But in 2014, Lewinsky started to appear once more on public radar. She wrote an article for the June 2014 issue of Vanity Fair about her experience, and began to speak out against cyber-bullying and online harassment. A few days ago, on 19 March 2015, Lewinsky spoke at the TED 2o15 Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her talk was about the public humiliation and shaming that is rampant in our social interactions, and the price that society is paying.

You can watch the entire speech below. An analysis follows.

Here is my take on the speech from a public speaking perspective. Continue reading

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 198) – Robert McKee

Robert McKee - American Creative Writing Instructor

Robert McKee – American Creative Writing Instructor; Creator of the “Story Seminar”

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

— Robert McKee

Photo courtesy of John Hyams
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Nine photo composition tips for your slides

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Steve McCurry’s work speaks volumes. With a career that has spanned more than 30 years, McCurry is widely considered one of the icons of contemporary photography. The galleries on his website are well worth a visit.

The Cooperative of Photography recently created the short video below in which McCurry shares nine tips for good photo composition. These tips are just as valuable when it comes to incorporating photographs into a Keynote or PowerPoint slide presentation.

One of the best known rules of photography is the “Rule of Thirds”. I teach it in my extended workshops, and it is the first tip covered in the video. But there are eight other great ideas, some of which were new to me.

You certainly do not need a photograph on every slide in your presentation. But many slide presentations could benefit from a well-placed photograph or two. If you decide to use photographs in your presentations, McCurry’s tips might just come in handy.

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Rhetorical Devices: Tricolon

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link.

Device: Tricolon

Origin: From the Greek τρία (tria), meaning “three” and κῶλον (kôlon), meaning “member” or “clause”.

In plain English: A series of three words, phrases or sentences that are parallel in structure, length and/or rhythm.


  • Three words, phrases or sentences combine to make a single, powerful impression.
  • A tricolon allows you to emphasize your point in a pithy and memorable way.
  • A tricolon is a powerful device for humour. The first two elements get the audience thinking you are going in one direction, but the third element introduces an unexpected twist. Just think of any joke that begins, “Three ___ walk into a bar …”. See, also, the quotes from Dorothy Parker and Johnny Depp at the end of the post.


  • Tricolons are one of the most powerful rhetorical devices. There is something almost magical about the number three.
  • In his book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Roy Peter Clark writes: “[T]hree provides a sense of the whole … the number three is greater than four. The mojo of three offers a greater sense of completeness than four or more. … Use one for power. Use two for comparison, contrast. Use three for completeness, wholeness, roundness.”
  • A tricolon that is only three successive words is also known as a hendiatris. Examples include: Veni, vidi, vici.; Citius, Altius, Fortius; and Wine, Women and Song.
  • The elements of a tricolon need not always be the exact same length. In fact, as Mark Forsyth has noted, tricolons sound especially good when the third element is longer than the preceding two; for example, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.


With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

—  Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1865


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

—  Dwight Eisenhower,  Chance for Peace speech, 1953


“After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength.  Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves.  And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged [with punishments] the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

— Barack Obama, Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela, 10 December 2013


“I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless and stupid.”

—  Dorothy Parker


“I actually feel rather good about this. I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place, eh? Spiritually, ecumenically … grammatically.”

—  Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean

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