Author Archives: molly

Why Public Speaking Still Matters in the Age of Facebook

You can read Molly Shadel’s op-ed from the Daily Progress here.

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The Third Presidential Debate: Agreeing Disagreeably

An old law school friend said it best in a Facebook post:  This was “an entire debate of agreeing disagreeably.”

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Second Presidential Debate: Obama Gets Focused

The second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney proved to be another clash between two expert rhetoricians. The winner of the debate depends on which poll you read, indicating that this continues to be a tight political race. … Continue reading

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The Vice-Presidential Debate: What Will You Remember?

That “whoosh” you may have heard last night was a collective sigh of relief, as Democrats across the country watched their vice-presidential candidate come out swinging. After President Obama’s low-energy performance during the first presidential debate, Democrats were itching for … Continue reading

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First Presidential Debate

Last night’s presidential debate was a pleasure to watch. President Obama and Governor Romney have extensive debate experience—over 50 debates between them—and the wonky political knowledge that a candidate must master to exude credibility. Both were able to project power, … Continue reading

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The Debates Are Coming…

Tonight at 9:00 EDT you can watch the first round of the presidential debates between President Obama and Governor Romney. Here is our list of what each candidate should do in order to be at his rhetorical best:

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Plato, YouTube and Muhammad: When the Rules of Rhetoric Clash with Free Speech

Plato hated rhetoric.  He worried that it made the “worse appear the better reason,” that it was a form of “flattery” designed to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant multitudes. He conceded that rhetoric could be done … Continue reading

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Romney Unplugged: Fundraising Remarks Show Imperative of Knowing Your Audience

Mitt Romney’s rhetoric has made headlines again this week because of recently released videos of remarks that he made at a private fundraising event several months ago.  The speech and the reaction to it reveal how important it is to … Continue reading

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The Democratic National Convention, Day Three: The Main Attraction — Barack Obama

The build-up was intense: Eloquent speeches by Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and others; then a moving video tribute narrated by George Clooney. The expectation was high. Obama has already delivered some of the most memorable speeches of his generation. The … Continue reading

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The Democratic National Convention, Day Three: Joe Biden Learns It’s Hard to Follow Clinton

Joe Biden is capable of delivering a moving, inspiring speech. This was not his best. Biden tried to establish an emotional connection with his audience by starting the talk as many of the speakers at these conventions have, by describing … Continue reading

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The Democratic National Convention, Day Two: Bill Clinton Resets the Bar

Bill Clinton is a masterful public speaker, so all expected him to do well. He delivered. You can watch the speech here:

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The Democratic National Convention, Day One: Michelle Obama Soars

Michelle Obama shone bright on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. She had many tough acts to follow (you can read about them here), but once she took the stage, she made you forget all the other speeches … Continue reading

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The Democratic National Convention, Day One: Starting With a Bang

The first day of the Democratic National Convention was a pleasure for fans of rhetoric to watch. Many of the presentations were emotionally powerful and delivered superbly. (The terms that you’ll see in parentheses are Aristotle’s concepts of effective persuasion: … Continue reading

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Preparing for the Democratic Convention: What’s the Best Argument?

Now it’s the Democrats’ turn.  During their convention, they must make a case akin to a trial lawyer’s closing argument:  Clear, strong and full of conviction. The most pressing question:  Are you better off now than you were four years … Continue reading

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Mitt Romney’s Etch A Sketch Problem: Why it is Difficult to Change Stories Mid-Campaign

You may recall a memorable moment in the Romney campaign back in March, when senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom described the transition from the primaries to the general election as an opportunity for his candidate to reinvent himself:  Everything changes. It’s … Continue reading

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Using “Women” in the Republican National Convention

It was striking how many of the key speakers at the Republican National Convention reached for the theme of the importance of women.  In speech after speech, we heard about the dominant role that mothers have played in shaping the … Continue reading

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The Republican National Convention, Day Three: Mitt Romney Accepts the Nomination

The Republican National Convention, Day Three: Mitt Romney Accepts the Nomination The first half of Day Three of the Republican National Convention (or at least the part that was actually broadcast on network TV) was a bizarre train-wreck. Surprise guest … Continue reading

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The Republican National Convention, Day Two: Paul Ryan, Condoleezza Rice Set the Bar High

Republicans were treated to two powerhouse speeches during the second day of their national convention.  Condoleezza Rice and Paul Ryan both demonstrated a flair for verbal persuasion, but in two very different ways.  Their speeches, taken side by side, show … Continue reading

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The Republican National Convention, Day One: Ann Romney Overshadows Chris Christie

The two most notable speeches during the first day of the Republican National Convention came from Ann Romney, the candidate’s wife, and from Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey and the keynote speaker of the convention. Despite Gov. Christie’s … Continue reading

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A Campaign Scorecard: Grading the Candidate’s Rhetoric

A presidential campaign offers the perfect opportunity to better understand how verbal persuasion works in action. The party conventions, political debates and various campaign speeches are exercises in rhetoric. The candidates and their supporters will try to persuade you of … Continue reading

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How Ethos Changes Everything: A Lesson from Aristotle for John Edwards

A jury on Thursday declared John Edwards to be not guilty of misusing campaign money, and deadlocked on five other charges against him. It is unlikely that the government will retry Edwards, so this may mark the end of Edwards’ … Continue reading

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GOP’s “Basketball” Ad Finds Way to Go Negative on Obama — the Right Way

Today, Crossroads GPS, the conservative group founded by Karl Rove, released a new political ad criticizing President Obama, which will be aired widely across the country. The ad is also the work of Larry McCarthy, the producer of the questionable “Willie Horton” … Continue reading

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How To Craft a Commencement Address: Steve Jobs’ 2005 Speech at Stanford University

It is graduation season, and across the country nervous keynote speakers are scrambling to write that perfect commencement address. How to do it well? If you are looking for a model of a stand-out graduation speech, you will want to watch Steve … Continue reading

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Mourdock Must Toss Tough Talk to Appeal to Indiana Voters

Many saw Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s defeat of six-term incumbent Richard Lugar in last week’s Indiana GOP primary as another sign of the death of bipartisanship. Lugar was known for his willingness to work across party lines, while Mourdock caters … Continue reading

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How to Make an Apology: A Lesson from Aristotle to Mitt Romney

This week The Washington Post reported that presidential candidate Mitt Romney bullied a classmate in high school. Romney issued two responses to the story; first, a denial via his spokesperson Andrea Saul, and second, in an interview on Fox Radio, in which he apologized for his behavior. The story has now shifted to the apology itself. People are skeptical. This is because it violates fundamental rules of verbal persuasion. Continue reading

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Tongue-Tied America receives favorable reveiw from Law Library Journal

The Law Library Journal wrote that “Tongue-Tied America would be an excellent selection for all law school libraries, undergraduate academic libraries, and large public libraries.”  You can read the review here.

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Professor Shadel Teaches Online Course about Performance Techniques

On November 2, 2011, Professor Molly Shadel taught an online course for the American Law Institute/American Bar Association about using acting techniques to improve your oral advocacy skills.  You can download the course here.

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Professor Shadel Speaks About Verbal Persuasion Skills for Women Attorneys

On October 12, 2011, Professor Molly Shadel presented a workshop for the American Law Institute/American Bar Association about verbal persuasion skills for female attorneys.  You can download the broadcast here.

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Professor Sayler Speaks at Stanford University about Verbal Persuasion

Robert Sayler spoke at Stanford University on October 26, 2011 about human psychology and verbal persuasion.  You can watch a video of his talk here.

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The American Bar Association Gives Tongue-Tied America a Favorable Review

The American Bar Association writes: “By unlocking the secrets to effective public speaking in their new book, Tongue-Tied America: Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion, Robert N. Sayler and Molly Bishop Shadel may do as much for judges and juries … Continue reading

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