The Book In Depth

The Book In Depth

Tongue-Tied America:  Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion (3rd ed.) argues that public speaking in an essential skill for every American: personally, professionally, and because we live in a representative democracy.  Despite the importance of public speaking, a large majority of people are fearful of doing it, and only a tiny minority have any training in how to go about it.  The book sets out to explain how to do it well.  The authors are law school professors and lawyers with decades of public speaking experience between them.  The book addresses the specific needs of lawyers, law students, and politicians, but will also be of interest to any professional whose position requires him or her to speak publicly.

Tongue-Tied America is a book broader in scope and deeper in detail than any prior modern undertaking.  It provides the reader a concise but comprehensive grounding in the rules of classical rhetoric; contains a detailed “how-to” section that walks the reader through the process of writing a speech, delivering it well, and thinking strategically about how to convince particular audiences; and examines the role that public speaking plays in daily life in myriad settings, from the courtroom to the boardroom to the Presidential podium.  The final section of the book examines numerous well-known oral presentations, explaining why they work and how.  New to the 3d edition: a complete legal file, including depositions and exhibits, for use in a trial advocacy class. This companion website includes videos illustrating how to deliver a speech well, breaking down for the listener the exact components that make a speech effective.

Fascinating and concise, Tongue-Tied America: Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion features:

  • A comprehensive review of the principles of speech writing from the perspectives of classic rhetoric and cognitive psychology
  • Crisp descriptions of the keys to successful public speaking, based on lessons taken from the law, theater, and psychology
  • Everything you need to know to deliver a successful speech
  • What to do with your hands and feet
  • Avoiding verbal ticks (such as “uh,” and “um …”)
  • Developing an awareness of cadence
  • Connecting with your audience
  • Exercises for improving voice and overcoming stage fright
  • Beginning and ending a speech with force and interest
  • Tips and checklists
  • Numerous practical examples that illustrate what works and what doesn’t, with helpful analysis
  • Strategies and techniques for addressing and persuading different types of audiences
  • A complete legal file that can be used as a basis for a mock trial to teach trial advocacy skills

Praise For Tongue-Tied America

“The authors have wrapped into one volume everything that lawyers need to know about public speaking. It teaches all of us—from real estate attorney to trial lawyer—how to talk and how to persuade. It’s all there—from the most basic stuff, like voice control and standing in the right place, to the more nuanced art of cadence, timely gestures, and winning visuals. A long overdue must for our profession!” – Barry F. McNeil, Chair Emeritus, American Bar Association Litigation Section, Partner, Haynes and Boone

“This wise and lively book is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in effective oral communication.” – Doree Allen, Ph.D., Director of the Oral Communication Program, The Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University

“This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be able to present ideas effectively.” – Paul John Tagliabue, former Commissioner of the NFL, Partner, Covington & Burling

You can order the book at or directly from the publisher.  Professors may order a free copy by calling 1.800.950.5259 or e-mailing