Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ featured in Toastmaster Magazine

My fellow public speaker, business partner and good friend Florian Mueck and I are proud to announce that Toastmasters International has published an article about Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ in the October 2017 edition of its Toastmasters Magazine.

Readers of this blog will have seen posts about RHETORIC in the past: the physical board game; the launch of the app; news about upgrades to the app. It is great to see the game now being recognized by one of the world’s largest public speaking organizations.

Florian and I extend our thanks to Shannon Dewey who did a great job in putting the piece together. It was a pleasure working with her. Below is the interview portion of the Toastmasters Magazine article.

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How did you meet?

Florian: In spring 2010, John and I met at a Toastmasters division conference in Porto, Portugal. He was the keynote speaker; I was one of the International Speech contestants. What I did not know was that he was also a competitor in his division that year. The competition was on!

John: (laughing) In the end, we each won our division, but neither of us placed at district. But we came away with something better: the foundation of what has become a great friendship and partnership. Today, besides Toastmasters, we work together with clients, co-author books and products, and enjoy more than a few beers together.

How can a game help those who fear public ­speaking?

Florian: Before joining Toastmasters, my heart wasn’t pounding when I had to speak in public; it was a galloping herd of 1,000 wild horses. Playing Rhetoric can help you tame those horses. Yes, you are giving speeches, but you are also playing a game with others. Gamification turns fear into fun.

John: The nerves never go away entirely. When you play ­Rhetoric, there is that same adrenaline rush every time it is your turn. But instead of days or weeks, there are only minutes between one speech and the next. We have seen incredible progress over the course of a single game. People who were nervous at the start are jumping onto the stage by the end of the game. They don’t even realize that they are sharpening their speaking skills.

Since you live in different countries, how did you ­collaborate on this project?

Florian: Usually when we work on specific issues, we use Google Docs. Next to our computer screens we place our smart phones and use the video function of Whatsapp. We see each other and work simultaneously on specific challenges. Once I edited a sentence that John was editing at the same time. He uttered those immortal words: “Get the cursor out of my face!”

John: We come from different countries, have different backgrounds and have different personalities. Just compare us onstage! But that is our strength. When we combine our different ­qualities, cool things happen. If we were a car, Florian would be the gas pedal and I would be the brake. Without the gas, you won’t move; without the brake, you are going to crash. With both, you can go anywhere.

Did you test the game on family and friends?

Florian: Feedback is a cornerstone of Toastmasters’ success. With the prototype, the board version and now the app, we have played with, and listened to, hundreds of people. Their feedback has been invaluable.

What future developments can we expect from Rhetoric?

John: Right now, the app can be played in six languages: ­English; Spanish; French; Russian; German; and Catalan. We plan to add more such as Mandarin, Italian and Portuguese. For themes, we already have Classic and Family (suitable for all ages). Future themes will include Business and Comedy. And we are always open to suggestions, so get in touch!

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You can read the entire online version of the Toastmasters Magazine article here.

Seeing RHETORIC go from an idea to a prototype to a board game to an app on our smartphones and tablets has been incredibly rewarding. To everyone who has supported us along the way, Florian and I sincerely appreciate it.

And if you haven’t played RHETORIC yet, check it out. Now, it’s your turn to speak.

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Testimonials

John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International