Manner of Speaking

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.

After watching this speech (several times), I scrolled through the comments on the TED site. One comment in particular caught my attention. It was only a single sentence. A woman wrote, “This TED Talk is going to save someone’s life some day.” I think she’s right. And I can’t think of a better reason to give a speech.