Manner of Speaking

Analysis of a Speech by Philip K. Howard


Philip K. Howard is a lawyer from New York and author of the books The Death of Common Sense, The Collapse of the Common Good and Life Without Lawyers. One of his great concerns is the manner in which his country, the United States, has become paralyzed by the proliferation of laws and lawsuits, and by the pervasive threat of litigation.

In this TED talk, Howard offers four suggestions for fixing the American legal system. It is an excellent talk. Following the speech is my analysis of what we can learn from it about public speaking.

So, what can we learn from Howard about public speaking? In particular, what can we learn about giving a speech where our general objective is to persuade our audience to agree with our position on a matter? Let’s take a look at what I thought were some of the key parts of his talk.

How could Howard have made this speech even better? I have two suggestions.

My suggestions, however, do not detract from the fact that this was a wonderful speech delivered by a speaker who spoke passionately and eloquently on a topic of great importance. As a lawyer myself, I found it particularly moving and I agree wholeheartedly with Howard’s common sense approach to a significant problem.

If you want to learn more about Philip K. Howard, you can visit his site here.