Dear speech-fans and -friends,

Depth and gravity marked the speeches delivered this past month as Europe commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the end of the first world war, the eightieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht, or looked ahead to global challenges, with the Katowice COP 24 just starting, 

These speeches typically call for good lines, as you can see below in our monthly selection of what good rhetoric is. 

On a lighter tone but as relevant, the latest book in the Bibliography section provides useful insights on what audiences can get – or not – from the use of numbers and statistics in speeches. 

Best wishes,

Great speeches,

Isabelle

 

I want to say this with all the force I have in me today, 

because the coming night we will be thinking about the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht in Germany. 

And this is for me the ultimate symbol that if you just put enough effort into it, as Hitler and Goebbels did, in a couple of years' time, even in a sophisticated society, you can manipulate people's anxieties and fear and instrumentalize it to such a degree that you can dehumanise part of your population, especially if you can say that they are different. This is what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1938.

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, 25th anniversary of the OSCE High Commissioner on national minorities, 9 November 2018

 

The power of the ‘Why’ question

Eighty years since the pogrom night – why, ladies and gentlemen, am I talking to you about this today?

... and the speech comes full circle

This is why we commemorate today (…). That is the message and the essence of our acts of commemoration today.

Read the full speech here: Angela Merkel, Commemorative event marking the 80th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht, 9 November 2018

 

The power of the ‘Why’ question … and who raises this question

(English below)

Il y a 10 ans, en 2008, mourrait à l’âge de 110 ans le dernier combattant français connu de la Grande Guerre, M. Lazare Ponticelli. Chaque 11 novembre, M. Ponticelli, immigré italien, honorait la promesse faite à ses camarades tombés trop jeunes au combat. Il se rendait au monument aux morts pour penser à eux.

A la toute fin de sa vie, il avait finalement accepté de témoigner dans les écoles. Et son témoignage commençait ainsi - et je cite: « D’abord, je n’ai jamais su pourquoi on se battait… ».

Lire le discours intégral d'António Guterres, Ouverture du forum de Paris sur la paix, 11 novembre 2018

 

Regarder et écouter le discours d'António Guterres, Ouverture du forum de Paris sur la paix, 11 novembre 2018

(In English)

Ten years ago, in 2008, Mr. Lazare Ponticelli, the last known French veteran of the Great War, died at the age of 110. Every year on 11 November, Mr. Ponticelli, an Italian immigrant, honoured the promise he had made to his comrades who had died too young on the battlefield. He used to visit his local war memorial to remember them. Right at the end of his life, he had finally agreed to talk to schoolchildren about his experience. He always began with these words: “First of all, I never knew why we were fighting …” 

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Address to the Paris peace forum, 11 November 2018

 

The power of a fresh story to convey your message

To find out who is Margareth Knight, how her story is memorable and conveys the speaker’s main message, and why ‘That should inspire all of us today’,

Read the full speech here: Margrethe Vestager, On fair markets and gender equality, 29 November 2018

 

Build a bridge to the audience

- As a European Commissioner with China

Each of us knows the importance of peace, with our borders close to some of the most troubled parts of the world.

Each of us is affected by the same changing climate, by rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities from Shanghai to Copenhagen – and even Hamburg, one hundred kilometres inland.

Read the full speech here : Margrethe Vestager, Europe and China: partners for a better world, 27 November 2018

 

- As a European Commissioner with former Members of the European Parliament

Over the past four years I have had the privilege of being part of a long line of Europeans who believe we can make Europe a better place, just like you.

Read the full speech here: Carlos Moedas, Former Members Association of the European Parliament annual dinner, Brussels, 28 November 2018

 

Whom do you quote?

Jean Monnet once said : ‘Nothing is possible without the citizen. Nothing is sustainable without the institutions.’

Read the full speech here: Carlos Moedas, European Union research and innovation in our daily life, 27 November 2018

 

General de Gaulle is reported to have said that, although Germany was defeated, we all lost.

Read the full speech here: Angela Merkel, Opening of the Paris peace forum, 11 November 2018

 

Make the audience feel it

Le 7 novembre 1918, lorsque le caporal clairon Pierre Sellier sonna le premier cessez-le-feu, vers 10 heures du matin, bien des hommes ne purent y croire, puis sortirent lentement de leurs positions, pendant que, de loin en loin, sur les lignes, les mêmes clairons répétaient le cessez-le-feu puis faisaient entendre les notes de la sonnerie aux morts, avant que les cloches ne répandent la nouvelle, à la volée, dans tout le pays.

Le 11 novembre 1918, à 11 heures du matin, il y a cent ans, jour pour jour, heure pour heure, à Paris comme dans toute la France, les clairons ont retenti et les cloches de toutes les églises ont sonné.

Lire le discours intégral : Emmanuel Macron, Commémoration du centenaire de l’armistice, 11 novembre 2018

Pour voir le discours, cliquer ici

 

Coin your message to make it memorable

Nostalgia has become the new opium of the people.

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, Sustainable development goals and initiatives for sustainable global value chains, 30 October 2018

 

La construction européenne  (…) :  « Too meaningful to fail ».

Lire le discours intégral d'António Guterres, Ouverture du forum de Paris sur la paix, 11 novembre 2018

Regarder et écouter le discours d'António Guterres, Ouverture du forum de Paris sur la paix, 11 novembre 2018

(In English)

The European project (…) : “Too meaningful to fail”,

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Address to the Paris peace forum, 11 November 2018

 

Contrast & antithesis

We’re no longer strangers. Today, we are partners.

Read the full speech here: Margrethe Vestager, Europe and China: partners for a better world, 27 November 2018

 

I see two forms of politics now in the western world. One is based on seeing the fears and looking for answers to address those fears and to find solutions. And one is based on chaining people to their fears, making them hostages of their fears, and exploiting those fears, increasing those fears and thus trying to keep political control of a society.

Read the full speech here: Frans Timmermans, Sustainable development goals and initiatives for sustainable global value chains, 30 October 2018

 

What to do with numbers and statistics?

(English below)

Le deuxième défi est celui de la démographie et des migrations. Il a fallu du Big Bang jusqu’à 1820 pour atteindre le milliard d’habitants sur la terre. Aujourd’hui, nous approchons les 8 milliards d’habitants, et la moitié de la croissance de la population mondiale sera en Afrique. Dans un contexte de réchauffement climatique, d’inégalités et de conflits, les migrations resteront un phénomène durable. Il faut retrouver la raison dans ce débat sur les migrations.

(In English)

The second challenge is demography and migration. It took from the Big Bang until the year 1820 for the number of people on Earth to reach one billion. Today that number is approaching 8 billion, and half of the growth in the global population will be in Africa. In a context of climate change, inequalities and conflict, migration will remain an enduring phenomenon.

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Address to the Paris peace forum, 11 November 2018

 

The latest figures we have seen are quite alarming. Almost everyone is breathing in air that is not clean enough to be healthy. If we don't act on plastic pollution between now and 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. If we don't act on climate change then erratic weather and other sorts of natural disasters will be something we will see every year. The city of Houston has had three '500-year' events for three years in a row.

Read the full spech here: Frans Timmermans, Sustainable development goals and initiatives for sustainable global value chains, 30 October 2018

 

Signposting that helps the audience listen and follow

Of those five principles, the most fundamental is fairness. (…)

But fairness and opportunity are never guaranteed, unless we have the means to enforce them. The power to remove leaders who act against our interests. And independent courts to protect our rights.

So that is the second principle we should agree on – that democracy, and the rule of law, are not negotiable (…)

But securing those rights is only the start. We also need to tackle the challenges of the future. So the third principle we should agree on is to protect Europe’s environment (…)

And a secure future also means knowing we have opportunities. So the fourth principle we should agree on is a Europe of sustainable growth.

But our lives in Europe are also affected by the world beyond our borders. And when that outside world seems threatening, people won’t feel safe, no matter what we do to make Europe a better place.

So the last of the five principles we should agree on is building a Europe that keeps its people safe.

Read the full speech here: Margrethe Vestager, A shared vision for Europe’s future, 26 November 2018


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