Advantage: Superior Speaker — not superior argument

We tend to believe, perhaps naively, that the superior argument, the more logical & rational argument, the more thoughtful & measured argument, will win the debate; or at least ought to win the debate.

However the more closely I look at this, the more I doubt it.

Here are two clips, both from politics, where the arguments on both sides are valid and powerful. In both cases, it is the superior speaker who wins.

Leaders, lead negotiators (& others who find themselves in conflict situations): ignore developing your public speaking skills at your own peril. Of course one must have excellent arguments, but that alone is not enough. Ignore this reality at your own peril.

Prior viewing these clips, remind yourself that you are a student; one who will not be drawn into the conflict. We are seeking mastery in public speaking—that is our only goal here. This is combative & provocative material—so take a deep breath and remain focused on learning.

Nelson Mandela vs. FW.De Klerk

In this Mandela vs. De Klerk clip, Mandela’s vocal variety, pauses, body language, gestures, facial expressions are vastly superior. De Klerk’s reading & speaking at the same time does not help him at all. I judge Mandela to have clearly won this debate—despite the very valid point that de Klerk raised.

John Major vs. Tony Blair

In this Major vs. Blair clip, I judge Blair to (narrowly) be the debate winner, even though, in my opinion, Major has the superior argument. The turning point comes when Blair uses two rhetorical devices (rule of 3: & repetition) effectively when he retorts “weak … weak … weak.” Major’s come back was strong, but not enough to entirely overcome the energy that Blair created.

Great acting all around! Excellent use of notes too—specially Major.

Committing to excellence in public speaking is now more important than ever!

FYI: Today (July 18th) is Nelson Mandela Day


Every engineer can be a better engineer
by being a better pubic speaker and storyteller

Every professional can be a better professional
by being a better pubic speaker and storyteller

Every citizen can be a better citizen
by being a better pubic speaker and storyteller

I help citizens, professionals, and engineers become better public speakers and storytellers.

Book Description
Necessary Bridges: Public Speaking & Storytelling for Project Managers & Engineers

Every engineer & STEM professional can articulate an engineering & STEM challenge as eloquently and inspirationally as the speaker does in the audio of this clip. At the very least, every engineer and STEM professional can aspire to do so.

STEM = Science Technology Engineering Mathematics
Audio = JFK/Moon Speech Segment/Rice University Sept 12, 1962