Dear all,

Here is a short selection of speeches delivered this month,

together with a few other pieces - as long as they can serve our inspiration and aspiration to improve.

Once again, I would like to thank the colleagues and friends who drew my attention to some references for circulation to other speech-fans.



The noble art of speechwriting

Not too long ago, the President and I were working on a speech that we knew would get a lot of attention. (…) So two days before the speech, I handed him the first draft in the Oval Office (…). He started out by saying, “Look, this is well-written, and I could probably deliver it as is,” which almost never means he actually wants to deliver it as is. “But we have two days, so let’s make it better.”

And then he gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten, one I wish he’d given me years ago. “You took a half-swing on this. Take a full swing.”

Chief White House Speechwriter Keenan, Commencement Address, 19 June 2015, selected Vital Speech of the Week


Connect with your audience 

·       If you can speak your audience’s language (delivered in French by the Spanish king)

« Je sais qui je suis », disait Cervantès par la bouche de Don Quichotte. Et bien nous, Français et Espagnols, savons qui nous sommes et ce que nous serons demain, si nous nous le proposons…

La France et l’Espagne y parviendront ensemble, parce que nous avons des sensibilités semblables et que nous tournons nos regards vers un même horizon. Pour reprendre les mots d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, nous pouvons dire qu’ « aimer ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction. »

King Felipe VI to the French Assemblée nationale, 3 June 2015


·       If you can speak your audience’s numerous languages (delivered in four languages spoken then on the battlefield and today in the audience : French, English, German, and Dutch)

More Europeans than we can sometimes imagine were flowers that would never bloom because of the horrors of war and terror. To keep war at bay, to build lasting peace, to bring the peoples of Europe ever closer together: that is our common duty, that is our common destiny.

First Vice President Timmermans, Commemoration Ceremony for the Battle of Waterloo 18 June 2015


·       What do you have in common ... from Chili to Sweden?

English below:

Mi discurso será una larga travesía, un viaje mío por regiones, lejanas y antípodas, no por eso menos semejantes al paisaje y a las soledades del norte. Hablo del extremo sur de mi país. Tanto y tanto nos alejamos los chilenos hasta tocar con nuestros limites el Polo Sur, que nos parecemos a la geografía de Suecia, que roza con su cabeza el norte nevado del planeta.

Nobel Prize in Literature Laureate Pablo Neruda, 1971, in Spanish


My speech is going to be a long journey, a trip that I have taken through regions that are distant and antipodean, but not for that reason are less similar to the landscape and the solitude in Scandinavia. I refer to the way in which my country stretches down to the extreme South. So remote that our boundaries almost touch the South Pole, recalling the geography of Sweden, whose head reaches the snowy regions of this planet.

Nobel Prize in Literature Laureate Pablo Neruda, 1971, in English


Simple and tangible

The game of chicken needs to end, and so does the blame game. Because this is not a game and there is no time for any games. (…)

There is still time, but only a few days. Let us use them wisely.

European Council President Tusk on the Euro Summit, 19 June 2015


When one of our hunter-gatherer ancestors first exchanged a stone tool for his next meal, it was the beginning of trade and the beginning of the economy.

And every time someone working in a company across Europe gets a paycheque today thanks to exports, that's an economic activity too.

Commissioner Malmström, An integrated EU trade and foreign policy, 11 June 2015


500 kilograms per second. This is the amount of waste that is thrown into the seas and oceans.

Since I started talking, 7000 kilos of litter have made their way to the sea. By the time I finish it will be 450 tons.

Commissioner Vella, Plastic Recyclers Europe, 19 June 2015


Lorsque le Président Juncker s'est adressé à ce Parlement le 15 juillet de l'année dernière, il vous a dit que sa mission première est de reconstruire des ponts en Europe.

En fait construire des ponts en Europe, et au-delà de l'Europe, est une tâche éminemment européenne.

Et c'est pour cela qu'il ne peut être ici cet après-midi; il aimerait être parmi vous mais il essaie de bâtir des ponts avec la Grèce.

First Vice-President Timmermans, European Parliament, 24 June 2015


Trigger reflection and action

At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.

It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.

And it is in our power to do something about it.

President Obama, Statement after the shooting in Charleston, 18 June 2015


The counter-intuitive finding:

"The more empathetic managers were, the more they used their personal preferences to predict what customers would want. Another key finding that should get people’s attention is that the more empathetic the managers were, the more they ignored the market research on customers that we provided them", says Professor Hattula, explaining a series of experiments led by Imperial College’s researchers in a recent Harvard Business Review interview : Putting yourself in the customers shoes doesnt work, Harvard Business review, March 2015

What about trying to anticipate the audience’s needs?

The good news is that we are well equipped as far as research is concerned (from polls to our network of Representations and Delegations).


You want more?

Here is an example of the speeches that, looking backwards and paying tribute to someone, offer the opportunity to speak about values and build a sense of belonging (the epideictic speeches).

This one shows many rhetoric tools - alliteration, repetition (anaphora and epistrophe), quotes related to the deceased’s family, Chekhov's gun, antimetabole, and how to combine protocol at the highest level with a strong opening, etc. – a concentration of logos, pathos, and ethos.

President Obama, Eulogy Beau Biden, 6 June 2015


More rhetoric devices?

I'm guessing you probably know what is the Amazon Desert, right?

Well believe it or not, it was once called once called the Amazon Forest, and there were billions of trees there, and all of them gorgeous and just um.. Oh, you don't know much about trees, do you?

Prince Ea, Dear Future Generations