Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

@uucidl uucidl/
Last active Jan 25, 2018

What would you like to do?

Techniques of persuasion.

Has had a bad rap throughout ages. Appears necessary in democratic societies. Preserved under authoritarian systems for justice and theology, and for elite groups. In western republic democracies, mainly practiced by professional politicians (elective nobility) and lawyers. Porosity between the two groups.

More and more essential in the companies that want to emphasize group problem solving and collaboration. Practiced without knowing it, in a dry style, by engineers via their communications and documentations.


  • Magic/Mysterium. In classical times it was clear that it takes time to develop know-how. Practice. Initiation. Hence roles of schools as safe space for learning and practice.
  • Eloquence


  • Foresight/foreshadowing (asking the audience to predict what would happen. Near to Far)
  • Adapt vocabulary to audience. Simple to be understood, complex enough to flatter
  • Delivery. Speed, Pause, Repetition, Rhythm.

Persuasion and seduction Moving someone without constraint to adopt certains points of views and opinions.

Attack of a communication sets the tone.

  • Sharp. Uncomplicated. Authentic, Focused.


  • sustain the intelligence of the audience. Wake they up via silence, humor or provocation

Classical delivery medium:

  • Speeches
  • Written (letters, essays, books); Speeches adapted as prose.


  • Videos
  • Systems/Interactive Experiences

Empathy. Affection. Logos vs Pathos. Chaos vs Narration.

Has roots in law (logographers)

  • demosthene
  • antiphon
  • andocides

Link with politics because justice and politics were intertwined. (Large juries)

People: Stars of rhetoric in the western world are Demosthene and Cicero.

People (for speeches)

  • Louis Jouvet

Contemporary People:

  • Marc Bonnant, Lawyer

Surprising aspects of public speaking on stage:

  • lights may be blinding, no possibility to see audience
    • mitigation: have a friend on front row who will react positively (smile, nod) and help handle stress and confusion
  • need space and technical checks
    • do it if the space doesn’t propose it already
    • familiarize oneself with the space: where you stand, where you walk, where from you read
    • bring own remote controls
  • microphone get set up directly on you
    • appropriate clothes with attachment points
    • no jewelry that might make noise
  • internet may be spotty
    • local copies of the presentation material
  • memory may be spotty
    • speaker notes
  • room may be empty/not full
    • this is normal
  • room may appear inattentive
    • use of phones may not indicate disinterest
  • stress
    • deep belly breathing
    • get rooted on the ground
    • get blood flowing
    • pace yourself
  • train and rehearse
    • record yourself doing the talk many times
    • practice in chunks
    • practice articulation

Observed praxis

  • presenter + slide: slide is didactic, logos+ethos while the presenter acts as proxy to the audience, pathos

Advice gathered

  • speak from a personal perspective and experience, using the breadth of your experience as a person
  • intersection of your personal experience gives uniqueness to your perspective
  • for selling an idea, it’s helpful to alternate before the utopia and the current situation and emphasize the gap
  • visuals: designed for readability at the back of a hall
  • time appears to flow slower than it really is, due to your focus, which has the potential problematic side effect of making you speak too quickly. Practice speaking slower than your default pace. Focus on elocution, on correctness of every word.
  • stimulation of the audience is necessary to wake them up. Moderns often use pictures for that. Classics would raise words and show emotion.
  • indication of structure: table of content, and marking concluding remarks with phrases that indicate it (“here is what I hope you get from this talk”)
  • practice the art of making pauses

Summary for "Doing A TED Talk: The Full Story"

@title: Doing A TED Talk: The Full Story @author: Tim Urban @url:

Public speaking used to work by reducing formality and fear of formality. "Just be yourself", "Talk like you normally do".

However that broke down for doing a TED talk.

  • one take
  • precisely timed (14min)
  • widely distributed "movie"
  • one hell of an opportunity

This makes you freak out easily.

Public speaking classification

Wing it:: no planning, improvised. Risk of not meeting the audience.

Talk through a set structure :: structure, no exact phrases. Always a little bit different. Improvised within a frame, that's more or less rigid.

Follow an exact script :: say exactly what's on the script (A). Can be reading out text out loud. Some audience stop listening to a recitation. Other forms involving memorization still can come as recitations, where eye contact and other public interactions are reduced. Risky if not memorized in full (B).

At the end of the spectrum (C), you memorized the lines entirely, like a comedian. The conscious mind is barely used to deliver the speech, and can work on animating, acting the speech.

The riskiest option is doing (B) a badly memorized recitation. Depending on the situations, reciting may be the easiest and less risky. Otherwise talking through a structure can deliver good average results without huge disasters.

(C) requires a lot of upfront effort. Takes a long time like writing a small play then learning to be actor in it.

Tim Urban's experience. 6 months of preparation procrastination.

Mistake. Rehearsing the part that worked well. Mistake. Underestimating that rewriting leads you to have to rememorize that part of the script.

Introduction, p9

Telle est la fonction herméneutique de la rhétorique, « herméneutique » voulant dire l'art d'interpréter les textes. Dans l'université actuelle, cette fonction est primordiale, pour ne pas dire unique. On n'enseigne plus la rhétorique comme art de produire des discours, mais comme art de les interpréter.


  • Blaise Pascal
  • Ciceron


Internal business communications. DuPont Corporation. Gatherings around large collections of charts. Comparaisons, discussions around them.

Robert Gaskins

Model for PowerPoint: overhead transparencies.

Computer-aided typesetting enforced distinctions between content and formatting. Presenter, by contrast, allowed users to work with the finished product in real-time.

I.e. using desktop computers, the presenter now cares again about style and content together.

Slide decks do, however, possess their own interesting properties as documents. Their modularity allows them to be generated as piles and then later assembled into a narrative order. They can be single or multi-authored, can structure a range of outputs, and can be easily revised, re-shuffled, and re-used. Their virtues as a flexible authoring platform are well-suited to the demands of the modern corporation. Slide decks coordinate, collate, document, and report on the work of heterogeneous actors in different groups, across different sites, and at a range of organizational levels. They travel vertically and laterally, both inside and outside the firm.

The powerpoint presentation is usually performed. Knowledge paired with performance. A form of speech more than writing?

Current standards:

Meetings without properly formatted slides cannot take place. Computer failures prevent speakers from talking about what they want to talk about. Students refuse to recognize the legitimacy of lecture content unaccompanied by slides.

Mutual flow

Modern corporations, once comprised of document-reading individuals, now relied on co-located groups reading epigraphically. By turning distributed readerships into collective beholding, personal computing brought a theatrical quality to organizational life.

Question and answer sessions aren’t primarily about eliciting information. They are ritual means of determining whether or not the speaker is a member of the group (anyone who has endured an academic job talk knows this only too well).

Presentations as rewards to knowledge workers, as a way to give them attention and status. At the same time, presentations are a place where the group judges the individual.

Accumulation of facts, conveyed through images and labelling. And unlike theatre performances and speeches, the slide deck leaves a mark, stays in there. The slide deck shows rather than describe. Turn audiences into witnesses. But it remains a performance and employs rhetorics.

"L'image est peremptoire, elle a toujours le dernier mot" -Roland Barthes

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment
You can’t perform that action at this time.