In the John F. Kennedy room

John F. Kennedy was a master of rhetorical devices. A quick look at his use of contrast and tricolon.

The John F. Kennedy room was a fitting place for a public speaking coaching I gave today.

Kennedy was of course, with his speechwriter Ted Sorensen, a master of rhetorical devices, in particular, of Contrast (antithesis) and the Power of Three (tricolon).

His inaugural address had plenty. So did his ‘We choose to go to the moon‘-speech (delivered at Rice University in 1962).

Me with John F. Kennedy: look at two rhetorical devices that JKF loved to used.“The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not.”

“We choose to go the moon…and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.”

“Because that is a challenge we are willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we intend to win.”

JFK, as befits a President, delivered these words in what Cicero called the High Style. That will not work for most of us on most occasions. But his words are actually quite simple (something I wrote about before). Something similar, delivered in a low (conversational) style can work for us. Three examples that participants used in trainings:

So let’s deliver this project in quality, scope and time.

In the next ten minutes I want to give an overview of where we stand, what has changed and what we propose to do next.

I propose we leave out Option 3, not because it won’t win us business but because it’s not in line with who we are.

Over to you.

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