Rhetoric for Persuasive Speaking

Dukascopy Bank is a Swiss online bank that provides trading services, particularly in the foreign exchange marketplace. One of its subsidiaries, Dukascopy TV, broadcasts shows about business matters on the Internet. I have been interviewed there a few times, for example here and here.

Recently, the team at Dukascopy invited me for an interview on the 2016 Presidential election in the United States. The focus of our chat was rhetoric and, in particular, the use of rhetoric in the campaign.

In the interview below, we discuss the following:

  • The meaning of rhetoric;
  • Aristotle and the three pillars of rhetoric;
  • How Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump use rhetoric in their speeches;
  • Some rhetorical devices that politicians have used throughout history, from Julius Caesar to Clinton and Trump; and
  • The relevance of rhetoric in business presentations.

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 242) – Bruno Giussani

Bruno Giussani - Swiss Director of TEDGlobal and European Director of TED

Bruno Giussani – Swiss Director of TEDGlobal & European Director of TED

“When people sit in a room to listen to a speaker, they are offering her something extremely precious, something that isn’t recoverable once given: a few minutes of their time and of their attention. Her task is to use that time as well as possible.

— Bruno Giussani

Photo courtesy of Bruno Giussani
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8 insights from Malcolm Gladwell that made him a better speaker

Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist author and speaker. He has written five books: The Tipping Point; Blink; Outliers; What the Dog Saw; and David and Goliath. All five made it to the New York Times Bestseller List. I have read the first three and look forward to getting to the other two at some point. Gladwell also hosts the podcast Revisionist History.

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

I recently listened to Gladwell being interviewed on another podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The discussion is wide-ranging and free flowing, and covers such topics as Gladwell’s research and writing process; running; favourite books; and much more.

At one point during the conversation, Ferris expressed his admiration for Gladwell’s public speaking abilities and asked him to explain the difference between his keynotes that were successful and those that were not.

I have distilled Gladwell’s response into eight insights. (In the list below, words such as “I”, “my” and “me” refer to Gladwell.)

1. My breakthrough came when I realized that good public speaking requires a lot of work. It requires about 10 times more work than I had been giving it when I first started out.

2. I reached a point where I had to decide whether I wanted to continue speaking in public. Because it has its pluses and minuses. I decided that I only wanted to continue speaking if I got much better and if I changed my speaking in a way to make it more meaningful to me.

3. I decided that I needed to have much more material. I have to give different speeches; I cannot just give the same speech over and over.

4. I spend a lot more time thinking about the audience.

5. I spend a lot more time thinking about my performance. And it is important to remember that it is a performance. I am not giving a speech, I am giving a performance.

6. Giving a speech is more than just standing up and reading an article. It is a world that has its own rules and principles and I threw myself into it.

7. Whenever I speak, I strive for authenticity. It’s hard to do when I speak to an audience where I am an outsider. For example, if I have to speak to a group of IT specialists, I don’t know anything about IT. I try to say something that will engage them and that is intelligent and that will make them think. It requires an effort, but it has to feel like me; they have to feel like they are connecting with me. I can’t fake it. It’s hard work, but it’s hard in a good way. That’s what makes it interesting.

8. What satisfies an audience is my attempt to bridge the gap between us while being true to myself. And when a speaker can bridge that gap, it is very satisfying.

Gladwell said that he has spent a lot of time thinking about the points above and that it took a long time to implement them. However, the process has made public speaking much more interesting for him and, as a result, he enjoys it more. He also shares a humorous anecdote about the speaking abilities of the British historian, Niall Ferguson.

If you would like to listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s conversation with Tim Ferriss, you can find the audio here. If you are only interested in the part about public speaking, it begins at 28:25 of the recording.

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 241) – John Lasseter

John Lasseter - American Animator and Film Director, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar

John Lasseter – American Animator and Film Director, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios

Very, very, very important: Do not work in a vacuum.

“You have to surround yourself with trusted people. You get so immersed in your work, you will not be able to see the forest from the trees. Frankly, you’ll be studying the pine needles and worrying about them.

“You need someone to help you back up and take a look at the forest and see where things are working or not working.

“And you need to surround yourself with people whose judgment you trust and they can be brutally honest with you.

“As an artist, showing unfinished work to people is really difficult. It’s really hard. It always is hard. It always will be hard. It never gets any easier, but you have to do it.

— John Lasseter

Photo courtesy of Eric Charbonneau
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6 Steps to a Great Introduction

PG LogoOn 1 June 2016, I announced the launch of a new digital magazine for public speaking professionals: Presentation Guru. I am proud to be one of the co-founders of the site. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community.


When they have a speaking engagement, speakers naturally focus on what they are going to say and the audience that will hear the message. This is as it should be. But in the real world of speaking, there are also many logistical things to remember. (If you have not yet downloaded it, here is a free one-page checklist to help you make sure you remember all the little things for your next presentation.)

One thing that speakers tend to overlook is the way in which they will be introduced to the audience. This is a mistake, because the person who introduces you sets the tone for your talk. A great introduction piques the audience’s attention and raises the level of energy in the room. A bad introduction can have the opposite effect. Why waste the opportunity?

In this Presentation Guru post, my friend and fellow speaker, Jack Vincent, shares six simple, but important steps to getting the best introduction possible. Follow these steps  the next time you have a speaking engagement and you will be off to a strong start.

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