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

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: ethos, or credibility; pathos, or emotional engagement; and logos, or logic. See our previous posts for more about these concepts.) Note how many of these hit some of the arguments that we listed in our previous post.  Speeches worth noting:

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

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 almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again. Admitting to this plan was roundly criticized as folly, but candidates traditionally must fine-tune (or even significantly overhaul) their messages as they…

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Using “Women” in the Republican National Convention

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 lives of these political figures: Chris Christie’s Sicilian mom, “the enforcer,” who taught him to speak “the truth, bluntly, directly and without much varnish”; Paul Ryan’s mom, who demonstrated true grit by earning a degree and starting a business after…

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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 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 Clint Eastwood may prove to be the most vivid memory that many viewers will take away from Mitt Romney’s big day, with his incoherent speech that included a strange (and off-color) dialogue with an invisible, imaginary Barack Obama. Florida’s Marco…

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

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 that there are many paths to the top of the rhetorical mountain.  The trick is to choose the one that suits your own personal, authentic style.

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

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 ease at the podium and reputation as a terrific speaker, Ann Romney — neither a politician nor a professional orator — outshone him. Here’s how:

A Campaign Scorecard: Grading the Candidate’s Rhetoric

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 the wisdom of their positions; you may engage in a little political debating of your own with friends and family. If you know how rhetoric works, you will be better positioned to evaluate the political campaigning that you hear, and…

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

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’ legal battle against charges that he violated campaign finance laws by accepting enormous sums of money to hide his pregnant mistress from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer. This was a case that turned most Americans’ stomachs —…

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

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” ad from 1988 — the one that played on racial fears by featuring images of a scary-looking African-American man as it accused Michael Dukakis of being soft on crime. With a pedigree like that, you might expect to see some bloodshed in this…

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

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 Jobs’ 2005 commencement address to Stanford University. Here is why it works. A fundamental rule of speechmaking: Choose a topic that you care about, and figure out how to make your audience care about it, too. Jobs selected as his theme…

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Mourdock Must Toss Tough Talk to Appeal to Indiana Voters

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 to the Tea Party crowd. Pundits believe that Mourdock may yet play a central role in the Republican effort to take control of the Senate. But Mourdock may have a tough time winning a Senate seat unless he abandons the Tea Party’s “No…

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

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.

Tongue-Tied America featured in the 2012 Virginia Festival of the Book

Tongue-Tied America featured in the 2012 Virginia Festival of the Book

Molly Bishop Shadel and Robert Sayler, authors of Tongue-Tied America spoke March 23rd on the topic of effective public speaking. In their presentation Shadel and Sayler give several examples of poor public speaking taken from recent Republican primary stump speeches. They then follow with examples of many great speeches including the one in which Lou Gehrig moved a nation with his speech about the disease that now bears his name. You will learn why “It’s a bird, it’s a plane it’s Superman!”…

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

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 as they have for the lawyers who deliver arguments at hearings, at trial, or on appeal. If, indeed, there ever was one, those who apply the principles taught in this book will no longer have any excuse for giving a…

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Professors Sayler and Shadel offer roundtable at Inaugural Symposium of University of Virginia President

Professors Sayler and Shadel offer roundtable at Inaugural Symposium of University of Virginia President

On April 14, 2011, Professors Sayler and Shadel spoke at a roundtable as part of the Inaugural Symposium celebrating the appointment of the new University of Virginia President, Teresa Sullivan.  They advocated the importance of incorporating verbal presentation exercises across the curriculum in all disciplines, and also described a workshop that they have designed to improve the communications skills of teaching faculty.

Tongue-Tied America Featured in The Daily Progress

Tongue-Tied America Featured in The Daily Progress

Tongue-Tied America was featured in the March 13 Sunday edition of The Daily Progress, Charlottesville’s local newspaper. Professors Sayler and Shadel answer questions about why they wrote the book and the importance of public speaking,  and they offer tips for people who are afraid to speak in public. The article appears on page A2 of the newspaper and is available online.

Webcast on Verbal Presentation Skills Available for Download

Webcast on Verbal Presentation Skills Available for Download

Professor Shadel’s Webscast for ALI/ABA entitled Public Speaking and Oral Advocacy: How To Do It Well! was originally presented live via webcast for ALI-ABA. The course qualifies for CLE credit and is now available for download. Visit the course page at ALI ABA to download the presentation. Why Attend? “[A]t a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy.” Jerry Seinfeld Public speaking is an essential skill that…

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Professor Shadel Speaks to the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia

Professor Shadel Speaks to the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia

Professor Shadel spoke today to the Insurance Law Forum of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. The topic was effective communication skills for female lawyers. In her speech, titled “Advocacy and Gender: Women, Speech and Power,” Professor Shadel discussed gendered behaviors women may exhibit while speaking in public. More information can be found at the DC Bar web site.

Online Public Speaking Course with Professor Shadel on January 26, 2011

Online Public Speaking Course with Professor Shadel on January 26, 2011

Professor Molly Shadel will be available for live Q&A after an encore presentation of a public speaking course she presented last October. The course, titled Public Speaking and Oral Advocacy: How To Do It Well! was originally presented live via webcast for ALI-ABA. The course qualifies for CLE credit. Visit the course page at ALI ABA to sign up.