Dear speech-fans and -friends,

Just back from the Professional Speechwriters Association ‘s 2018 Word Conference: the opening keynote speech was a call for going high when they go low (Philip Collins wrote this book I recommended last year) and the closing keynote session focused on ‘Enough said : What’s gone wrong with the language of politics’, with New York Times CEO, Mark Thompson interviewed on his book. 

I had already recommended the first one in the bibliography. I’ve read the second one and recommend it to anyone who wonders what has happened – when and how – and what to do. With these two highlights of the conference and everything in between, as well as the conversations during the breaks, it’s definitely a call to do our best, especially in times of important elections on the other side of the Atlantic this week, and on our side next spring.

Next to an updated bibliography, you'll find the monthly selection of what good rhetoric is below.

Best wishes,

Great speeches,



A rhetorical treasure from the Professional Speechwriters Association’s 2018 World Conference

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product (…) counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.  Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. 

Robert F. Kennedy, Remarks at the University of Kansas, 18 March 1968

Strong opening

"This house would say YES to Europe". That was the wording of a motion before this house, 43 years ago, in 1975.

That debate is still considered one of the most famous ever held in this beautiful debating chamber. It was live on BBC1. And the nation watched as the audience voted overwhelmingly YES to Europe, with 493 ayes to 92 noes. It must have been rather crowded here, with almost 600 people in this venue! Only two days later, the UK voted by 2/3 majority to remain in the European Union, or as it was known then, the European Community.

Today I am here - on behalf of the European Commission - to defend the motion that the euro is stronger than ever.

I will argue there is heavy evidence to support this case. But I want to be even more ambitious. Today, I also want to convince you that the euro is - in fact - a success story for Europe. I will focus on three points:

First, that Europeans are better off with the euro as their currency.

Second, that this is true also in times of crisis.

And finally I will demonstrate that the euro is today stronger than ever before.

Valdis Dombrovskis, "The euro is stronger than ever", 18 October 2018


Open with an unexpected anniversary

You know, I saw this morning that today is the anniversary of the invention of the light bulb. 139 years ago today - almost to the hour - Thomas Edison and his team created the first  commercial incandescent light bulb.

To build it Edison needed a team of people from all areas: a physicist, a machinist, an engineer, a carpenter, a glass blower, a blacksmith.

And when I was thinking about this invention this morning I realised it’s just like the bioeconomy.

Carlos Moedas, Sustainable and Circular Bioeconomy, the European Way, Brussels, 9 October 2018


What is the question – the real question?

So what I would like to do is to identify three key questions.

My first question: is the economy strong?

The answer to that is: yes, the economy is strong at the moment. 

But here is the real question: is the economy strong enough?

To that, our answer is: probably not enough, because (…)

My second question: is the economy safe enough?

The bottom line is this: ten years after the global financial crisis, we are safer, and measures have been taken, but we are not safe enough (…)

My third question: are the benefits of growth shared enough? 

The answer to that is: the benefits of stronger growth are not shared enough for our global economy to continue to grow in a sustainable way.

Christine Lagarde, Annual Meetings Press Conference, 11 October 2018



My key message today is that we need to manage the risks, step up reforms, and modernize the multilateral system.

Or, to put it in shipping terms, we need to steer the boat, not drift!


When we sail together, we are stronger, nimbler, better able to steer the ship through rough waters and avoid the rocks of shipwreck.

So now, as we set sail on our Voyage to Indonesia, let us work together—so we can steer our economies in the right direction and bring all people whether on big or small boats to a new and better port.

Christine Lagarde, 'Steer, Don't Drift': Managing Rising Risks to Keep the Global Economy on Course, 1 October 2018



(English below)

Nie wieder Krieg! 

Nie wieder Diktatur! 

Nie wieder Unterdrückung der Schwachen durch die Starken! 

Nie wieder Unfreiheit und Zensur! 

Nie wieder Verfolgung von religiösen und politischen Überzeugungen! 

Das waren wesentliche Motive der Gründung der ersten europäischen Gemeinschaft in den Römischen Verträgen und das waren Motive der Erweiterung und Vertiefung der Europäischen Gemeinschaft bis heute.

Frank-Walter-Steinmeier, Ehrendoktorwürde der Universität Athen, 11. Oktober 2018


Never again should there be war or dictatorship! 

Never again should the strong oppress the weak! 

Never again should there be repression and censorship! 

Never again should people be persecuted for their religious or political beliefs! These were the main motives for the foundation of the first European Community in the Treaties of Rome and for enlarging and deepening the European Community to this day.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, 11 October 2018


Repetition, repetition, repetition

(en français ci-dessous)

Despite the odds and the obstacles, we never give up

Extreme poverty is being reduced but we see inequality growing.

Yet we don’t giveup because we know by reducing inequality we increase hope and opportunity and peace around the world.

Climate change is moving faster than we are, but we don’t give upbecause we know that climate action is the only path. 

Human rights are being violated in so many places.  But we don’t give upbecause we know respect for human rights and human dignity is a basic condition for peace.

Conflicts are multiplying - people are suffering. But we don’t give upbecause we know every man, woman and child deserves a life of peace.

Antonio Guterres, Message for United Nations Day, 24 October 2018


Malgré les difficultés et les obstacles, jamais nous ne baissons les bras.

 L’extrême pauvreté recule, mais nous voyons croître les inégalités.

Pourtant, nous ne baissons pas les brascar nous savons qu’en réduisant les inégalités, nous redonnons espoir, nous ouvrons de nouvelles perspectives et nous renforçons la paix partout dans le monde.

Les changements climatiques vont plus vite que nous, mais nous ne baissons pas les bras, car nous savons que l’action climatique est la seule voie possible.

Les droits de l’homme sont bafoués en bien des lieux. Mais nous ne baissons pas les bras,car nous savons que le respect des droits fondamentaux et de la dignité humaine est une condition indispensable à la paix.

Les conflits se multiplient ; les gens souffrent. Mais nous ne baissons pas les brascar, nous savons que chaque homme, chaque femme, chaque enfant mérite de vivre en paix.

Antonio Guterres, Message for United Nations Day, 24 October 2018


Clear signposting

I will focus on three points:

First, that Europeans are better off with the euro as their currency.

Second, that this is true also in times of crisis.

And finally I will demonstrate that the euro is today stronger than ever before.

To address the first point, allow me to rewind a bit, and take you back to 2009.


This brings me to my second point. European countries – small and big – are better off with the euro. Even in times of crises. In fact, I would argue, ESPECIALLY in times of crises.


But I am not just here to talk about the European economy. I am here to prove that the euro ITSELF is stronger than ever. So this brings me to my third point.

Valdis Dombrovskis, "The euro is stronger than ever", London, 18 October 2018


And the speech comes full circle

Like Odysseus, we can be proud of all we’ve achieved, in a decade of unexpected challenges and dangers.

But when Odysseus returned from his voyage, he discovered his wife besieged by suitors, spending each night unpicking the tapestry she’d vowed to finish before she would marry any of them. And instead of the welcome he hoped for, Odysseus discovered that he had one more challenge to meet.


The voyages that Odysseus took in the stories were difficult and long. His battles didn’t end even when he reached home. But finally, at the end of the Odyssey, peace returns to Ithaca.

We don’t have that luxury. The last ten years have made huge demands of our societies. We’ve been through the fire – and we’ve emerged from it stronger.

But this is no time to relax. The challenges aren’t over. And the decade to come will ask just as much from us all.

We have what it takes to meet those challenges. We’ve faced bigger problems in the past, and overcome them, and made Europe the best place to live in history.

Margrethe Vestager, The future of European values, Terra Nova 10th Anniversary Debate, Paris, 3 October 2018