I was browsing in a New York bookstore when I overheard a man ask for a book on how to win an argument. The two young women behind the counter giggled. I wondered if they knew about Demosthenes. Persuasion is a serious subject, and this bookstore customer wasn’t just a victim, he was doing something about his problem. Continue reading “After losing an argument”
In the Argument Clinic, a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an absurdist comedy series, a man pays for a five-minute argument. The customer goes to a room where a man behind a desk hurls abuse at him. The customer interrupts saying he paid for a five-minute argument, and this is not an argument. The abuse hurler apologizes explaining this is Abuse, Argument is next door. Continue reading “The art of persuasion 2: How to argue”
Look at those two down there on the ground. Humans, they’re called. Not a brain between the two of them. They spend the entire day running about, giggling, or wrapped in each other’s arms. What nonsense! I’m going to s-s-shake things up. Continue reading “Fable: Why rhetoric gets a bad name”
George Orwell once wrote that a classical education would be impossible without corporal punishment. Maybe that’s why it isn’t taught in school today. A classical education was demanding. It included rhetoric: the art of effective speaking and writing.
I recently rejoined a local Toastmasters club after a hiatus of some twelve years. Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational speakers’ organization offering a rich arena for its members to develop connection, confidence, and clarity, and also have some fun.These are life skills worth cultivating. Membership fees are low, which makes the organization open to almost everyone. Continue reading “Toastmasters value”
“NOW HEAR THIS.” The U.S. Navy uses this phrase to command attention over a ship’s speaker system. Attention is the first order of business whether you’re giving a speech, writing a headline, or attempting to flag down that snooty waiter. Continue reading “Now hear this! Attention first”