Public Speaking is Meditation

It took me years and years to finally be… present… on stage. My thoughts used to go wild during my speeches: Did you prepare well? What if this humorous line doesn’t work? What will they think? Why did you have to say that? My thoughts used to get stuck in the past and in the future. But the magic of #publicspeaking happens in the now. Today, I am 100% present, always. You speak in public for one sole purpose: to make your audience a present. But how can you make someone a present, if your are not present yourself? Apart from that, being present on stage offers three big benefits, which your audience will appreciate tremendously. 
publicspeaking #charisma #beingpresent #audienceinteraction #calltheroom #humor #courtesy #authority #spontaneity #fminsights

Don’t seek, affirm

As a public speaker don’t seek affirmation from your audience. You are the leader of the pack. Doubt, hesitancy, uncertainty? No way! Show your belief; show your conviction, affirm!

#publicspeaking #charisma #ethos #authority #credibility #everywordmatters

No relevance, no ears

How many times in my life did I have to sit through presentations I couldn’t have cared less about? But was it my problem? It is your job as a speaker to make your message, your content relevant to your audience. Over the years, I collected seven ideas to make my audience care more about my talks. Be creative, find your own ways, but never assume that someone cares, from the start, about your added values, KPIs or market entry strategies in western New Hampshire.
#publicspeaking #charisma #relevance #whyshouldtheycare #speechcontent #speechwriting #fminsights

Rhetorical devices: Anaphora

Device: Anaphora

Origin: From the Greek ἀναφορά (anafora), meaning “to bring back” or “to carry back”.

In plain English: Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses.


  • Key words or ideas are emphasized, often with great emotional pull.
  • Repetition makes the line memorable.
  • The speaker’s words have rhythm and cadence.


  • In English, an active sentence (“We developed the plan.”) is more effective than a passive sentence (“The plan was developed by us.”). Thus, anaphora is particularly effective when one wishes to emphasize the subject of an action.
  • Anaphora, like any rhetorical device, can be overused.
  • Speakers should be careful to limit the number of times a word or phrase is used in a single anaphora. For most speeches and presentations, three is an ideal number. Beyond three, a speaker risks sounding affected, theatrical or bombastic.
  • The examples below from Churchill, Kinnock and King are exceptions, delivered by exceptional speakers in exceptional circumstances. The examples from Jobs and Aylward are better suited for most presentations.
  • The counterpoint to anaphora is epistrophe.


I came, I saw, I conquered.”

— Julius Caesar, shortly after the Battle of Zela, 47 BC


We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills …”

— Winston Churchill, House of Commons, London, England, 4 June 1940


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington, D.C., 28 August 1963


“If Margret Thatcher wins, I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to beyoung, I warn you not to fall ill, I warn you not to get old.”

— Neil Kinnock, Bridgend, Wales, 7 June 1983


“As you know, we’ve got the iPod, best music player in the world. We’ve got the iPod Nanos, brand new models, colors are back. We’ve got the amazing new iPod Shuffle.”

— Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007 Keynote Address


We have a new vaccine, we have new resolve and we have new tactics.”

— Bruce Aylward, TED Talk, March 2011

Post courtesy of: John Zimmer @ [link to source]
This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link.

Rhetorical Devices: Introduction

Rhetoric is the art of using language with persuasive effect. Aristotle wrote the classic book on the subject, On Rhetoric, in the 4th century BC. For centuries, the study of rhetoric—the ability to speak in public and to move audiences with logic, emotion and credibility—was an important component of many educational systems.

The word “rhetoric” comes from the Greek word ῥητορικός (rhetorikos), which means “oratorical”. “Rhetorikos” is derived from ῥήτωρ (rhetor), meaning “public speaker”, which in turn comes from the verb ἐρῶ (ero), meaning “to speak” or “to say”.

Simply put, a rhetorical device is a speaking technique that is used to persuade an audience to consider a subject from the speaker’s point of view. When used properly, rhetorical devices can have both logical and emotional appeal, and thus be very effective. Public speakers should know how to use them, and should endeavour to incorporate them into their speeches and presentations. 

This post marks the start of a series on rhetorical devices. Each subsequent post will examine a single rhetorical device, explain its meaning and use, and look at examples from speeches, presentations and literature.

Post courtesy of: John Zimmer @ [link to source]

Are rhetorical questions good?

Are rhetorical questions good? Of course they are. If you use the right ones. My logical me smiles every time speakers invite me to confirm their standpoint in an elegant way. In contrast, I feel a shiver every time speakers force me to agree with them. 
#publicspeaking #charisma #rhetoricalquestion #rhetoric #persuasion #fminsights

Cut the Strings

From my book, PLUSPLUS – Patterns for Better Communication: (you can get your copy at Amazon)
“Dinosaurs became extinct some 65 million years ago. I knew that. But did you know how many years dinosaurs populated this planet?
165,000,000 years.
Once I was reading Mark Twain’s classic Letters from the Earth, and found another number that made me think a lot. When we look at the sky at night, we see bazillions of stars — 300 sextillion (more or less) by the latest estimates. But light takes time to travel. If we could travel at light speed, 299,792,458 meters per second, it would take 3.6 years to reach the solar system that’s closest to us.
Aren’t we small?
So there is absolutely no need at all to make ourselves even smaller — but that’s exactly what we do all the time, both in everyday communication and on stage.
99⅓% of all business presentations in Spain start like this:
Hoy vamos a hablar un poco de nuestra empresa.
Today we’re going to talk a little bit about our company. Hey! Wait just a minute — what do you mean, A little bit? ¡¿¡A little bit ? ! ?
Your company is your passion, your life, your future — why would you want to talk about it a little bit?
I refer to things like this as ‘message reducers’, and our vocabulary simply teems with them.
A little bit, little, small, short, simple, simply, quick, quickly, hopefully, probably, potentially, basically, actually, perhaps, maybe, could, should, would, ought to, think, believe, guess, try, want, pretty much, kind of, sort of, rather, quite —
The list goes on — and on — and on. We are all world champions when it comes to diminishing our message — and ourselves.
Stop it!“ Cut the strings.