Dear speech-fans and -friends,

What has been the leading theme in the speeches delivered this past month?

In these weeks of transition in the European institutions, as Commissioners-designate have been preparing their hearings before the European Parliament this week and next, the highlight has been the Climate Summit in the United Nations. Although the United Nations Secretary General announced ‘the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech, but concrete action’, we heard some powerful speeches. 

So, climate. Our planet.

What do people remember from the speeches they have heard, and in this case from late President Jacques Chirac as France marks a day of national mourning on the occasion of his death last Thursday? In terms of speeches and quotes, these words delivered at the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 come on and on, in France and abroad: "Notre maison brule, et nous regardons ailleurs" – "Our house is burning down and we're blind to it". 

So, climate. Our planet. Again.

Want to learn more about speechwriting and speeches? Eric Schnure, co-author of the the just released second edition of the Political Speechwriters Companion is coming to Brussels early November. To know more about the different events and the conversation I will have with him – and hopefully many of you ! – save this date: Tuesday 5 November 1.30 pm. More detail for our European-based readers will follow – or contact me directly. Eric began his career in 1993 as a speechwriter for Vice-President Al Gore. 

So, expect stories on speeches on Climate. And our planet. Again and again.

Last but certainly not least : I’m heading to Washington DC for the Professional Speechwriters Association’s 2019 World Conference on 21 to 23 October. Looking forward to learning, getting inspired, and seeing many of you there.

You’ll find the best quotes, speeches, and rhetorical devices below, and under ‘Read more’.

Best wishes,

Great speeches,

Isabelle

www.logospathosethos.eu

 

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Start with a ‘bang’

Nature is angry.  

And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. 

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Remarks at 2019 Climate Action Summit, 23 September 2019

 

Burning forests are a tragedy no matter where they happen and no matter their scale. A tree needs many years to grow, but only few minutes to burn. We seem to know this, but we needed a shock, the shock of the Amazon rain forest fires to awaken ourselves from our lethargy. 

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, meeting on the action for the Amazon, 3 September 2019

 

"Notre maison brule, et nous regardons ailleurs". ("Our house is burning down and we're blind to it."). 

Jacques Chirac, World Summit in Johannesburg, 2 September 2002

 


Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Start with a ‘bang’

Nature is angry.  

And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. 

Short sentences

Because nature always strikes back.  

And around the world, nature is striking back with fury. 

Consider the last few months.

July — the hottest month ever.

June through August — the hottest summer in the Northern hemisphere ever; and the second hottest winter in the Southern hemisphere ever.

The years 2015 to 2019 — the five hottest years on the books ever.

Alternate the rhythm with very short sentences. One Word. One. Or two.

Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: Stop.

If we don’t urgently change our ways of life, we jeopardize life itself. 

Look around.

Concrete examples. Make it tangible.

Seas are rising and oceans are acidifying.  

Glaciers are melting and corals are bleaching.  

Droughts are spreading and wildfires are burning.

Deserts are expanding and access to water is dwindling.  

Heatwaves are scorching and natural disasters are multiplying.  

Storms everywhere are more intense.  More frequent. More deadly.

Give examples. Not just one or two. Many.

I have seen it with my own eyes – from Dominica to the Sahel to the South Pacific.

In May, I went to the island nation of Tuvalu where I witnessed an entire country fighting for its very existence against the rising seas. 

Two months ago, I visited Mozambique which was pummelled by unprecedented back-to-back cyclones. 

A few days ago, I was in the Bahamas, where Hurricane Dorian pounded the country for two unrelenting days.  

The destruction was not simply appalling.  It was apocalyptic.  

Make no mistake, when we see those images, we are not just seeing damage.  

We are seeing the future --- if we do not act now.

Ask a question

Dear friends, 

Someone asked me the other day, doesn’t all of this make you despair?  

My answer was a clear and resounding no.

Anaphora – I

I am hopeful.  

And I am hopeful because of you.  

Anaphora – II and contrast

This is not a climate talk summit.  We have had enough talk.

This is not a climate negotiation summit because we don’t negotiate with nature.

This is a climate action summit.

The rhetoric of anti-rhetoric

From the beginning, I said the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech, but concrete action. 

And you are here with commitments. Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Anaphora – III

Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future.

Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways.

And coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050.

I am very grateful to the leaders and members of the 9 wide-ranging coalitions that worked with great creativity and passion so that we can all get the most out of this Summit.

And young people – above all, young people – are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action (…)

Be short and direct

Dear friends, 

There is a cost to everything.  

But the biggest cost is doing nothing.

The biggest cost is subsidizing a dying fossil fuel industry, building more and more coal power plants, and denying what is plain as day.

That we are in a deep climate hole and to get out, we must first stop digging.  

Series of rhetorical questions to trigger rejection – aka epiplexis

After all, is it common sense to give trillions in hard-earned taxpayers’ money to the fossil fuel industry to boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases, and heighten conflict?

Is it common sense to build ever more coal plants that are choking our future? 

Is it common sense to reward pollution that kills millions with dirty air and makes it dangerous for people in cities around the world to sometimes even venture out of their homes?  (…)

Emotions – aka pathos

I will not be there, but my granddaughters will.

And your grandchildren, too.  

I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their home and only home.

I will not be a silent witness to the crime of dooming our present and destroying their right to a sustainable future.

Call to action

It is my obligation – our obligation – to do everything to stop the climate crisis before it stops us.

Time is running out. But it is not too late.

So, let us heed the calls of wise leaders – religious, business and especially young people who are taking to the streets to demand that we change our relationship with nature now.

Let’s lace up our running shoes and win the climate race for us all.

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Remarks at 2019 Climate Action Summit, 23 September 2019

 

Concise and concrete

Burning forests are a tragedy no matter where they happen and no matter their scale. A tree needs many years to grow, but only few minutes to burn. We seem to know this, but we needed a shock, the shock of the Amazon rain forest fires to awaken ourselves from our lethargy. 

Pathos and ethos

Europe is deeply moved by the magnitude of this calamity and its global and long-term consequences. 

We do not want to lecture anyone, we have no right to do so, as our own history is to a large extent a history of deforestation for land use and industry. But this is why we feel even more co-responsible for saving forests - on our continent and all around the world. We want to help everyone who is ready to save forests, because those who save forests save humankind. Today even the children have understood better than the adults that our planet without forests will become a desert planet, and that the burning forests are not only a matter for environmental activists, but they have become an issue evoking emotions of millions of ordinary Europeans.

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, meeting on the action for the Amazon, 3 September 2019

 

Trouver les mots

Monsieur l'ambassadeur,

Monsieur le Grand Rabbin,

Mesdames,

Messieurs,

Il est, dans la vie d'une nation, des moments qui blessent la mémoire, et l'idée que l'on se fait de son pays.

Ces moments, il est difficile de les évoquer, parce que l'on ne sait pas toujours trouver les mots justes pour rappeler l'horreur, pour dire le chagrin de celles et ceux qui ont vécu la tragédie. Celles et ceux qui sont marqués à jamais dans leur âme et dans leur chair par le souvenir de ces journées de larmes et de honte.

Il est difficile de les évoquer, aussi, parce que ces heures noires souillent à jamais notre histoire, et sont une injure à notre passé et à nos traditions. Oui, la folie criminelle de l'occupant a été secondée par des Français, par l'Etat français.

Il y a cinquante-trois ans, le 16 juillet 1942, 450 policiers et gendarmes français, sous l'autorité de leurs chefs, répondaient aux exigences des nazis.

Ce jour-là, dans la Capitale et en région parisienne, près de dix mille hommes, femmes et enfants juifs, furent arrêtés à leur domicile, au petit matin, et rassemblés dans les commissariats de police.

On verra des scènes atroces: les familles déchirées, les mères séparées de leurs enfants, les vieillards - dont certains, anciens combattants de la Grande Guerre, avaient versé leur sang pour la France - jetés sans ménagement dans les bus parisiens et les fourgons de la Préfecture de Police.

On verra, aussi, des policiers fermer les yeux, permettant ainsi quelques évasions.

Pour toutes ces personnes arrêtées, commence alors le long et douloureux voyage vers l'enfer. Combien d'entre elles reverront jamais leur foyer? Et combien, à cet instant, se sont senties trahies? Quelle a été leur détresse?

La France, patrie des Lumières et des Droits de l'Homme, terre d'accueil et d'asile, la France, ce jour-là, accomplissait l'irréparable. Manquant à sa parole, elle livrait ses protégés à leurs bourreaux.

Jacques Chirac, président de la République, prononcée le 16 juillet 1995, lors des cérémonies commémorant la grande rafle des 16 et 17 juillet 1942 (Discours du Vel d’hiv).

 

To read or watch another major speech from President Jacques Chirac’s mandate, here’s his foreign affairs minister’s 2003 United Nations speech against the war in Iraq, delivered by Dominique de Villepin: available en français and translated into English und auch auf Deutsch.

 

Words matter

I know that the word globalism doesn’t sound attractive. Personally, I prefer the word solidarity, so important for me and for my nation. In my political vocabulary, globalism and solidarity mean the same thing. And I am not talking about some naive ideology or abstract linguistics, but about concrete challenges and a chance for  pragmatic solutions.

Read the full speech here: Donald Tusk, 74th United Nations General Assembly, 26 September 2019

 

80 years ago, at this very moment, all hell rained down on Wieluń – fuelled by German racist barbarity and the desire to annihilate (…). What happened in Wieluń was a warning flare – a terrorist attack by the German Luftwaffe and a harbinger of all that would follow over the next six years.

We call it war – because we lack a proper way to describe all the horror of those years.

Read the full speech here: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Commemoration of the beginning of the Second World War at Wieluń, 1 September 2019

 

Leadership

I have been more times a keynote speaker than a listener. That is one of the problems of world leaders: they talk too much and they listen too little.

And, it is listening – it is in listening that we learn.

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Remarks to Youth Climate Summit, 21 September 2019

 

Good leadership is not just about setting out priorities; it is about listening to all voices, expert advice and fostering diversity of thought. Thus at the IMF I worked closely with our economists to produce evidence-based and data-led decisions, and listened carefully to staff to develop a common and modern vision of the IMF’s work (…)

The ECB needs to be understood by the markets that transmit its policy, but it also needs to be understood by the people whom it ultimately serves. People need to know that it is their central bank, and it is making policy with their interests at heart. One of the priorities of my Presidency, if confirmed, will be to reinforce that bridge with the public.

Read the full spech here: Christine Lagarde, Hearing before the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, 4 September 2019

 

Build a bridge towards your audience

- in some of the most painful and delicate circumstances

Read German Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s speech commemorating the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, delivered in Poland: see whom he quotes, what he says in Polish, how he introduces himself, etc.

Read the full speech here: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Commemoration of the beginning of the Second World War at Wieluń, 1 September 2019

 

- other example : to lawyers in Denmark

It’s a very great pleasure to be here today with you, the representatives of Europe’s legal profession.

Our European Union is a Union based on law. The rule of law in Europe is the visible sign of our commitment never to fall back into the tyranny and violence of the last century. It’s a promise to Europeans that the law will protect everyone, not just the rich and powerful among us. And it gives our people the security they need, to get on with life in the way that’s right for them.

And you – Europe’s lawyers – are the ones who make the rule of law a reality. You’re the ones who stick to the task of applying the law, even while voices around you are clamouring for shortcuts to be taken. And I’m very glad to have this chance to thank you, for all that you do.

I’m especially happy to be here right now, in the year when the Danish Bar and Law Society is celebrating its centenary. So I can add my voice to the chorus of appreciation for its work – standing up for the rule of law here in Denmark, and enforcing the very highest ethical standards.

Read the full speech here: Margrethe Vestager, Security and trust in a digital world, 13 September 2019

  

Machines take their jobs.  Traffickers take their dignity.  Demagogues take their rights.  Warlords take their lives.  Fossil fuels take their future.

Read the full speech here: António Guterres, Address to the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, 24 September 2019

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