Bernd Baumann Nazi Card

A Nazi analogy made by the AfD

Bernd Baumann Nazi CardAfD politician Bernd Baumann makes a Nazi analogy – at the first speech in the German Bundestag. Doing so he surely convinced his followers. In his speech, Baumann criticized the decision made at the end of the previous legislative period to appoint the senior president according to years of service rather than years of life. With the aim of not allowing an AfD deputy to open the first session of the Bundestag.

“Only in 1933 did Hermann Goering break the rule because he wanted to ostracize his political opponent. Do they want to go down such a slippery slope? Come back to the line of the German democrats,” Baumann stressed. A rhetorically really well prepared speech, in which Baumann is supported by the regular applause of his party members. Even more: in his speech, the politician also addresses the press reports according to which this decision “does not cast a good light on the parliamentary culture in Germany” (Focus). And this despite the fact that the press “is not in the majority favorable to the AfD,” according to Baumann.

He cleverly takes elements from German history and tradition as supporting arguments for his point of view.

Repetitions and conclusion

“How big? How great must the fear of the AfD be?” Baumann repeats. The icing on the cake is the conclusion of the speech: In just one sentence, Baumann lists all the issues that are important to his party. “From this hour on, issues will be renegotiated here. … In future also about the euro, gigantic borrowing, gigantic immigration figures, open borders and increasingly brutal criminality on our streets, ladies and gentlemen,” Baumann says.

What can you take away from this for your own presentations?

  1. Use analogies, including those from your country’s history.
  2. Do verbal judo and take an accusation you are often given and turn it around.
  3. Make sure you have people in the audience to support you.
  4. Summarize everything again in one last sentence.

Click here for the video in which Bernd Baumann, AfD, pulls the Nazi card.

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Besinnliche Stimmung: Kerze

Christmas – once particularly contemplative

Light a candle for a change

For most of us, a successful Christmas includes many elements: the special food, the appropriate decoration, the festive music, the beautiful clothes, the invited guests, the reflective stories … Which brings us to the theme of this article: contemplative stories.

A contemplative story also needs several elements to be well received. One of the elements, which you should not forget is the lighting. Here is my suggestion for this year:

  1. Tell a story and
  2. Replace ordinary light with candlelight before starting to tell your story?

The candlelight will give your story a very special, contemplative atmosphere.

Incidentally, lighting is also often a (neglected) topic in business presentations. Just seen again: The speaker left the lighting on the canvas on, so the slides were barely legible. This has nothing to do with contemplation, but with the fact that the message comes across better or worse, depending on the lighting.

In this sense I wish you and your dearest a contemplative and Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

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Rita Pierson

Every kid needs a champion.

In a TED lecture Rita F. Pierson explains  that every child needs a role model. She herself comes from a family of teachers. In the first sentence she makes that very clear. And thereby establishes a personal connection to the topic. The introductory sentence contains the word “schoolhouse” three times. This is not only funny, it also establishes her as an expert. It gives her credibility. In particular, her humor allows to reach her listeners.

She also connects to the experiences of the listeners when she says key sentences such as:”Children don’t learn from people they don’t like”. Relationships are extremly important. Unfortunately, this is all too often forgotten in school. I suppose everyone in the audience agrees with her.

She underlines her assertion with two quotations. One of James Comer:”No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship” and one of George Washington-Carver:”All learning is understanding relationships”. A little later, she takes up the subject of relationships again and describes a moving personal example during her mother’s funeral.

In her speech she also uses direct speech. She talks about a student who has only solved 2 out of 20 tasks correctly. She’s replaying the scene. She imitates the voice of the student and exaggerates her facial expression. Despite or because of the poor performance of the pupil, she manages to make the audience laugh without making the pupil look badly. This is very funny and makes the audience receptive to her message.

It’s not that hard to use Pierson’s speech techniques in your own presentations. Here is a selection of three techniques she used in her speech.

  1. Build a first sentence that is not only funny, but also strengthens your credibility.
  2. Emphasize your statements with quotes from well-known people.
  3. Play scenes from real life, including direct speech.

Click here for the video of Rita Pierson. The video is about 8 minutes long. Very inspiring.

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Gunter Pauli

Move your listeners, if necessary right at the beginning of your presentation

The number one rule of public speaking is,”Don’t bore your audience.” Because that many times leads to the audience falling asleep.

Some situations are easier than others to keep the listeners awake. Especially with rising temperatures – at the moment it’s about 30 degrees Celsius in my office – and with meetings that feel as long as a marathon it can be very difficult to keep the listeners and participants attention. Karem Albash, a colleague from the GSA, has brought to my attention a video on YouTube, in which this problem is masterfully solved. It is a video excerpt from the Entrepreneurship Summit 2014 in Berlin. Even if this occasion is a while back, I think everyone can learn something from it.

In the video we see Gunter Pauli, entrepreneur and designer and co-founder of The Blue Economy. He’s one of many speakers. What does Gunter Pauli do to wake up the audience?

  1. Gunter Pauli is in a good mood.
  2. He’s brimming with energy.
  3. He sets the audience in motion.

In particular, I think the third point is worth mentioning. Even though the first two points are a prerequisite for the third point to be successful. Namely: He makes the audience get up. At first glance, he doesn’t seem to be able to do it with all spectators. But he doesn’t give up: He insists. The audience seems to follow him. Especially as he has to ask the audience to sit down again at a later date. Acoustically, we hear that the audience has fun to participate. Yes, often this is the case: the audience wants to have fun or at least be entertained. Don’t be boring. As mentioned at the beginning, this is the highest rule of public speaking.

In addition, the third point is interesting because it helps the audience to take a different viewpoint. This contributes to the audience’s willingness to take new ways of thinking.

Why not also invite your audience to stand up, stretch out and move in a meeting or conference?

Click here for the video of and with Gunter Pauli

The sequence takes only 40 seconds (00:07 – 00:47). Look at it.

As always: Practice makes perfect. Only if you take the trouble to implement the tips, you have the chance to make a good speech.

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The British Exit - and the European Future

John Major on The Brexit

John Major on The British Exit – and the European Future; University of Zurich, KOH-B-10, October 17, 2016, 18:40 – 19:26 h. Organised by the Schweizerisches InstitutJohn Major on the Brexit - and the European Future für Auslandforschung SIAF.

It was an honor and a privilege to have the former British prime minister visit the University of Zurich.  It was great to be able to experience the Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH at first hand. The presentation was even more relevant because of the recent vote of the UK to exit the European Union. Therefore it was no wonder that the lecture hall was filled to almost the last seat available, i.e. about 440 attendees.

Former prime minister John Major argued that the exit came as a surprise to many. According to him there were going to be many negative consequences. Subsequently he praised the overall achievements of the European Union, acknowledging some difficulties. In particular the key achievement being peace in Europe after the first and second world war. On the other hand, one of the mistakes the EU in his opinion did, was to let too many countries  adopt the Euro too early. As a result, Sir John argued that the vote in favor of the Brexit had to do with the fact, that many British citizens hadn’t seen a raise in their living standard for the past 10 years.

Now to the topic of this blog: How good a public speaker is John Major?

On the positive side:

  • Use of humor: He opened and ended his speech with a joke. First with a joke about Gorbachev, then with one about Jelzin. John Major also deflected some potentially difficult questions with humor during the Q&A session.
  • Declaring his standpoint: He clearly said what his personal opinion was about the Brexit: He thinks it was a mistake. Comment: This puts things into perspective and let’s the audience understand more easily that he leans to one or the other side of the argument.
  • Relate to the audience: Sir John related to a large part of the audience when he (sarcastically) asked the students in the audience: “Are 65 million British citizens going to get the same deal as 500 million citizens of the EU? Discuss!” He earned a big laugh from that (, assuming that that will not be the case).

Areas for improvement:

  • Voice: John Major’s voice was not constantly audible. His voice tended to soften at the end of sentences to the point that he could no longer be understood. Suggestion: Articulate clearly and loudly until the end of every sentence.
  • One sided: Many arguments were unbalanced. E.g. NATO is good, Russia is bad. (No mention of the promise that NATO gave to Russia: We will not expand NATO if you let us reunite Germany.) Suggestion: When preaching to the converted that works fine, probably less so when speaking to a large number of (most likely) critical university students.

Conclusion:

Most noteworthy is Sir John Major’s humor. Unfortunately he could not always be acoustically well understood. In addition, in a school paper (and, in my humble opinion, hopefully by the press) he would have been asked to give a more balanced view.

This was a worthwhile event to go to, if only to experience first hand how a former and current leader speaks.

On a scale of 1 (stay home) to 10 (world champion): 7