Using Humor in Speeches, and Other Bad Advice

There are a few basic rules that many people seem to have stuck in their minds about public speaking:  Tell-’em-what-you’re-going-to-say,-say-it,-tell-’em-what-you-said; a-speech-should-have-a-beginning-middle-and-an-end; and open-with-a-joke. All three are wrong. I’ve talked about the first rule before.  That came from the Army in WWII, where it was meant to increase the likelihood that everyone up and down the […]

What’s a sound bite?

The transformation of public discourse into something haiku-esque has been brought about by the advent of television and the 24-hour news cycle.  News stations like CNN are so desperately afraid of losing you to the channel-changer that they pack "the most news" into shorter and shorter time frames.  That puts a premium on talking heads […]

Ronald Reagan’s Famous Question, Updated

Terminal timidity seems to have overcome the Democrats, and gloom the Republicans.  But both parties, preceeded by the chattering nabobs, are finally getting to the point of the election:  Just like 1992, it’s the economy, stupid.  Why?  Not this instant recession, though that may yet burgeon into something nasty.  The real reason, which we middle-classers […]

What is rhetoric?

A study of rhetoric begins with the Ancient Greeks.  Most of the basics of public speaking were figured out thousands of years ago by these early democrats.  The Ancient Greeks were the first society to have public trials for their citizens accused of a crime where the two sides, accuser and accused, were expected to […]