In Delivery, Facial expression, Gesturing, Learning from Luminaries, Luminary, News, Politicians, The Winning Voice, Video, Voice

“Tony Blair’s (former UK Prime Minister) effectiveness as a speaker came from the overwhelming impression he gave, that even when he contradicted himself, at the moment he spoke a given sentence he believed it in his very sinews.”

This is a quote from a great book by Sam Leith, entitled You Talkin to Me?

In the book Leith explains various figures of speech. He also deconstructs famous speeches and the technique of famous speakers.

Here are two pieces of information from the book that made me think:

1. A simple, clear explanation of the difference between simile and metaphor. ‘Where simile says one thing is like another, metaphor behaves as if one thing is another. When someone greets his wife “Hello angel” he is using metaphor. When he says, ‘My wife is like an angel” he is using simile.’

2. That in Martin Luther King’s famous Lincoln Memorial I have a dream speech, the ‘I have a dream’ sentence was chosen off the cuff. King had used the sentence in other speeches but he hadn’t planned to use it on the day. This is an example of trying out riffs, turns of phrase, one liners etc. –  out loud in your interactions, meetings and presentations.  A riff, turn of phrase, or one liner becomes more available in the moment, if you have heard yourself speak it in other situations.

If you’re a keen student of oratory, you’ll love this book.

Below is a link and clip of a 14 minute speech by Blair.

LINK to clip


Own the Conversation

  1. Watch the first 60 seconds (or more if you have time) of the clip, but before you do – and in line with last week’s post to force yourself to ask questions to get more out out of what you see and hear – ask yourself a question(s). For example, Where do I need to improve in my speaking and presenting and how can watching Blair help me make that improvement?
  2. Write down one thing that you learned from the clip.
  3. In the next seven days in your speaking and presenting – work on that thing.


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