BLM and The Knee

I read the other day that someone working for Sky had declared that those critical of ‘taking the knee’ were subhuman. There, I thought, was a prime example of idle hyperbole at best, and crass idiocy at worst. After all there are plenty of ways of displaying your opposition to racism, but taking the knee specifically pays homage to BLM, in the same way as a Hitler salute does to Nazism; and from what I have understood BLM is not the cosiest of clubs. Therefore I leapt at the chance to learn more when I saw that Hillsdale College had in October 2020 hosted a panel discussion entitled The BLM Movement and Civil Rights. I thought this would be a bit of a ‘blog holiday’ for me, not teaching just learning.

I was wrong. If you are a regular reader you will know my obsession with paperless speaking – no script, no notes – and the three panellists in order of speaking went from Paper Prisoner, via occasional glancer, to shooting from the hip, thus offering three stark examples of my case. Furthermore I couldn’t resist other interesting observations concerning their speaking style.

The panelists were Arthur Milikh, Wilfred Reilly, and Robert Woodson. The chairman is Michael Anton.

Of the four names above, Michael Anton is the only one whom I have denied a cyber link to learn about him. That is because he spends the first minute telling us all about himself. I briefly wonder whether he is inordinately nervous or a stammer sufferer who has almost conquered it. I decide upon the latter, which is admirable (it’s a difficult task). He conveys a lovely nature when introducing the others, reading the supplied resumé material but always raising his eyes to add his own personal twist. He’s good.

Arthur Milikh starts at 2:30, and we quickly learn two things. He really knows his stuff and will supply us with a wealth of deeply researched information, but we will have to work harder to absorb it because his audience engagement is lamentable. The reason for that is that damn paper that holds him prisoner. He can obviously communicate well through the written word but he has no idea how to convey it orally. At 9:15 he breaks out of the prison and addresses the audience freestyle, and for half a minute we see how he could be if he threw away his script. For me this is frustrating because I know how easily he’d do that with proper guidance, and how liberating he would find it.

That example is not ideal because it has to cope with transitions from reading to speaking and back again. We see it more clearly during Q&A when he fields a question that begins at 54:55, and thereafter all his speaking is perforce spontaneous and immeasurably better for it. 

For all that, this opening talk is hugely informative. There is a very revealing section that arrives around 13:40 on the theme of the appeasement of the corporate elites, and how BLM engineers it.  Milikh sets us up well for what is to follow.

Wilfred Reilly, talking about ‘Inner-city Crime and the Police’,begins at 19:42, and intrigues me. There is a nuance to his delivery that keeps me constantly wondering whether he is ever being altogether serious. His light touch seems to belie the seriousness of the topic, but he always stays just the right side of acceptability. His face at rest seems to be constantly slightly smiling, which may be just the way it was built by his Maker, though the preposterous beard – which somehow manages to be charming – is his own construction. He does ambush us with occasional flippant comments, excellently timed, and he sometimes protests that he doesn’t want to be glib but…

The glibness is interesting, because when it appears the humour comes direct from his knack of distilling things to a minimal use of words  – e.g. – “My basic one-sentence take on policing is that it’s a good idea”. 

Then at around 33:30 his delivery subtly hardens till at 36:28 the blast of war blows in his ears, and he imitates the action of the tiger. His sentences get shorter as do the words and finally he is serious – except he isn’t. He rounds off the entire speech – which, in passing, is full of some horrendous facts – with a flourish which draws a huge laugh from the audience.

This is one skilled communicator.

Robert Woodson begins at 38:45. He was on this blog only a handful of weeks ago with a full-length speech. Here as there he shoots the whole thing from the hip and is magnificent.  He is such a wise man!

He finishes at 50:30 and receives a standing ovation.  Even his fellow speakers stand.

There follow about twenty minutes of question and answer, and I found that equally riveting.

Anyone, be they footballers, sports commentators, world champion racing drivers, police officers, leaders of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, anyone who defends the taking of the knee – or, worse, attacks those who don’t – should watch this video and know the nature of the revolting movement to which they are paying abject homage. 

Roger Kimball liberated

In February, 2012 Hillsdale College hosted a conference called The Liberal Arts and Education Today. It included a lecture from Roger Kimball.

Kimball was one of the first speakers I featured on this blog. I see it was in June 2013. I remember that, having read his book The Fortunes of Permanence I went looking for an example of his speaking. I now see that, for a title to that post I stole a phrase from Shakespeare’s As You Like It which was rather pretentious of me, though I can see why I did it. The phrase was full of wise saws and modern instances because Kimball was fond of quoting others. Is he still like that?

Yes he is; but I’ll come to that in a moment.

The introduction is ably provided by Madeleine Smith, who studies rhetoric. I mention that because she would not need to look up the word when I point out the parapraxis in her final sentence. It’s a Neil Armstrong moment.

Kimball begins at 1:30. He is reading a script.

More than almost anyone you ever heard of, Kimball is immersed in the written word. He reads it, writes, it edits it and publishes it. Little surprise then that his idea of speaking in public is to write an essay then stand and read it. Also, in fairness, there are far too many public speaking teachers who sincerely believe that to be a correct way to go about it. They are tragically misguided.

What he has beautifully written, and what he is reading, is fascinating and brilliantly learned. I would love to read it, but I am unhappy hearing and watching his doing it.

I feel I am watching a prisoner. The real Roger Kimball is somewhere in there, unable properly to reveal himself. It’s not that he reads without expression – quite the reverse: he reads superbly, but look at his hands. When they are not hidden behind his back they are permitted just fleetingly to rise, illustrate a shape and then disappear again. Or they grasp the sides of the lectern, and occasionally we partially see an extension of the fingers. All my instincts, my experience, and his fidgeting tell me that his personality and hands are dying to be really expressive, but they are incarcerated by the written word.

He still quotes other writers almost to excess – some might call it gnomic, but these aren’t cheap slogans. They are excellent observations that are relevant to what he is saying. This again would be lovely to read, but frustrating to hear because many are so profound that you want to pause and let them sink in before moving on. That is a luxury not available to a lecture audience.

His hidden personality almost escapes at 25:40 when he explosively utters the word “but”. For a short while thereafter his hands are almost liberated. Almost…

Do you want to see the Kimball personality set free? Then keep watching till the end of the lecture, and then stay with it. The questions begin at 38:30, and with his replies we see him speaking spontaneously. Within a couple of minutes his hands come up and begin gesturing eloquently and generously as his liberated personality takes flight.

By the way, this niche interest of mine is not the only reason to stay for the Q&A. Hillsdale students ask excellent questions and this section is really stimulating. His new spontaneity does cause a drop of perhaps 5% of the literary merit of what he utters, but the compensation is at least 40% increase in audience engagement, and that’s a pretty good trade.

So if Kimball were rash enough to seek my advice, how would I suggest he prepare a lecture? As an experiment I would tell him to leave his desk and go for a walk in the countryside; think up three really good probing questions concerning his topic and message; answer them aloud to the landscape and listen to himself. I think he’d like what he heard.

Darel E. Paul to be paused

In early February, 2021, Darel Paul, Professor of Political Science at Williams College in Massachusetts, delivered to Hillsdale College a lecture entitled Political Correctness and Higher Education.

The introducer first introduces herself. She is Katie Ingham, a junior biochemistry major at Hillsdale. She speaks clearly and confidently and makes a good job of it. She might be mortified by her one small stumble, but I’m not: they happen. Nevertheless I have one little axe to grind. The introducer should never lead the applause for the introduced. The compulsion to do so is very strong; it feels as if you should; it even feels right while you are doing it; but it just looks wrong. It also sounds wrong because it is amplified by the microphone.

Professor Paul comes to the microphone at 1.21 speaks till 41:45 and then takes questions.

He reads a script. My tireless campaign for speakers to shoot from the hip has an etymological enemy here. The word “lecture” means “reading”.

The written word and the spoken word are different species. The language is different – subtly, but still noticeably. If you close your eyes you can still tell that he is reading. From the start it is clear that Paul’s theme is going to be very interesting, but I don’t need a talking head to make it so. This was written to be read and I’d prefer to read it. The talking head can try very hard to make the written word sound like the spoken word, thus blurring the boundaries between the two species, and learning to write speeches in spoken English can help, but Paul has written this in written English.

Another way to try to blur the boundaries is to read very expressively, and Paul does, but that still leaves another problem which is virtually insuperable. The written word and the spoken word are – or should be – differently structured. The spoken word should use much broader brushstrokes than this.

When reading you can stop to reflect on, and mentally debate, a passage. The desire to do so is a sign that the writing is challenging, provocative, and worthy of your time. You can’t do that while someone is speaking.

I can – and with this lecture often do – pause the video for the same purpose. You can do that also, but the students in the hall cannot. They may be supplied a transcript, but then that makes the lecture itself redundant.

Addressing a topic that demands fine brushstrokes, and delivering your address in a medium that demands broad brushstrokes, may seem an insoluble conundrum. It isn’t: there’s a solution, but it would take much more space and time than I have here.

Meanwhile, I commend this lecture as very thought-provoking and worthy to be regularly paused.

Abigail Shrier and rational fear

At a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Franklin, Tennessee, in May 2021 – the same one addressed by Andy Ngo whom we examined on 4 June – there was a talk by Abigail Shrier, author of Irreversible Damage.

She has a Wikipedia page which, in its first paragraph, includes the following verbatim statement,

The book endorses the contentious concept of rapid onset gender dysphoria.

I have yet to read her book, but I’ve heard this speech twice. When you’ve heard her speech, you may like to decide for yourself whether that statement by Wikipedia is likely to be true. You may also understand why I chose to link her name to her own website instead of Wikipedia in order that she – rather than others – should tell us who she is.

The introduction is made by our old friend, Timothy Caspar, who makes the usual precise and concise job of it. He also throws in an appealing play on words at the end.

As stated earlier I’ve watched this twice, and you can add to that several dippings in and out at particular spots. It took only one viewing to absorb, marvel at, and get angered by, what she has to say; the rest was trying to analyse and understand her delivery.

She reads her speech, which for me is always a disappointment because spontaneous shooting from the hip is always more audience-friendly. As usual I wait eagerly for an ad lib ‘aside’ to see how much more fluent it is, but in this event it isn’t. On the contrary it is full of stumbles. That is very unusual. Intrigued, I look for a reason and eventually I think I find it. I’ll return to that, but meanwhile I claim that Shrier could easily be taught how to shoot everything from the hip, and would find it super-liberating, but would take a heap of persuading that it was a good idea.

She is very nervous, and these aren’t Hump nerves because they don’t recede after the first couple of minutes. She continues to display nerve symptoms throughout, making me itch to help her. For instance the periodic adjustment of microphones is a classic example. As a generality nerves are divided into rational and irrational, and rational ones are those that get dug in and stay for the duration, so what does she have to be rationally nervous about? The content is beautifully coherent.

She doesn’t seem to be upset by the audience’s laughter. It isn’t derision: it’s laughter of astonishment, of incredulity, even outrage, and there is plenty here to cause outrage.

Children’s futures being destroyed by organisations who exist to help them is an outrage. The fact of most transgender activists not themselves being transgender is an outrage, as it suggests their motivation to be sinister. The huge list of previously respectable institutions that have been infiltrated and hollowed out by activists is an outrage. The disgusting techniques used to stifle any debate is an outrage. And so on.

At 20:14 she tells us that trans-bigotry is “soaked in lies”. At 28:25 she addresses “Why?”, and the answer comes at 29:35. Chaos. Chaos is the point. It’s all tied in with a range of other disreputable and mendacious movements – BLM, Antifa, Critical Race Theory, Extinction Rebellion, etc. Chaos is the point. The more lies you can invent to swell the victim class, the more people you have to join the Revolution.

I can think of many other movements that are soaked in lies, but don’t get me started.

Shrier ends at 32:12, and as the applause hits her just look at her face! How often have you seen such smiles of profound relief? And lest there be any doubt listen to what she says at 33:05. She has become conditioned to be scared stiff of her audience. That’s where the rational nerves stemmed. Scott Atlas made a similar observation when he spoke to Hillsdale.

What sort of evil are we up against when daring to speak the truth is made so dangerous? It’s an evil that causes all-but-extinct organisations like Hillsdale College, that espouse free debate, to be of huge importance.

Tim Allen to infinity

Tim Allen to infinity

In May 2021 Hillsdale College staged its one hundred and sixty-ninth Commencement Address, and the speaker was actor/comedian Tim Allen.

I’ve often thought that selecting a speaker for commencement addresses is an interesting and potentially perilous undertaking, because in addition to an absorbing speaker you have to find some relevance beyond mere celebrity. I have now discovered that Tim Allen, in addition to the huge menu of work in his resumé, in addition to being the voice of Buzz Lightyear, is the voice of Michigan in the state advertisements entitled Pure Michigan. Hillsdale College is in Michigan.

Nevertheless I suspect there’s a lot more for us to learn.

The speaker for an event of this profile should have a very senior introducer, and Larry Arnn the college President does the honours. We’ve seen him introducing before. He takes no prisoners. Does Tim Allen have any idea what’s coming?

Nope! He is overcome! “How in hell am I supposed to follow that?”

He’s neatly identified my problem here. How in hell am I supposed to critique this?

The fact is that being a comedian – a proper one with a Vegas routine that his agent warned him not to use here – he is comfortable with narrating a stream of consciousness. At least it comes across as a stream of consciousness whereas it conforms to an orthodox structure – chronology. He’s telling his life story with the emphasis, because he’s talking to a college, on his stressful relationship with his teachers. Anyone could follow that structure, but what makes this special is that he colours it all with his over-the-top personality. He’s a comedian – a proper one – and this is lovely stuff.

He’s even funny about how he went astray and wound up in a penitentiary for two years.

To the wider world he’s undoubtedly more famous for his acting because movies get more butts on seats than even the vast auditoriums in Vegas, but he’s a little dismissive of that part of his work. It pays the bills, it pays a hell of a lot of bills, but it doesn’t have audience contact. This is an artist who relishes audience contact and it shows.

The better they are the pickier I get. The least effective sections in this talk are when he moves into worthy areas. He probably thinks he should, and and he’s probably right, but it feels to me as if he’s strayed out of his back yard. But that’s very picky indeed.

I loved this.

Žižek vs Hannan re Marx

Žižek vs Hannan re Marx

On 3 June 2021 the Cambridge Union streamed a virtual debate between brilliant speakers who have both been featured on this blog before.

Slavoj Žižek appeared in January 2019 with a speech delivered to the Oxford Union. He it was, with his manifold twitches and fidgets, that finally cemented my conviction that if you are interesting enough it doesn’t matter if you display idiosyncrasies and mannerisms. I described him then as a tonic. I still do.

Daniel Hannan has been featured no less than seven times, the first time in November 2012, and epitomises my oft-repeated declaration that the better they are the pickier I get. My pickiness with him was that his search for public speaking perfection risked smoothing away his edges so much that his personality could get hidden.

Could you have a more contrasting pair? And the motion they are debating is This House Believes Marx Was Right.

The debate is introduced and chaired very well by Joel Rosen, President of the Union, and begins with a ten minute statement from each of the speakers. Žižek for the proposition goes first.

It is interesting that, rather than fill the screen with just the speaker, the producers elect to show both speakers all the time. My advice to those who are on TV debates is never while others are speaking to pull faces, nod, shake your head, scowl or make any other tacit comment, but remain impassive and keep your powder dry. I am therefore delighted to see Hannan listening intently but without expression. (There is one dramatic exception late in the debate when Žižek makes a staggering statement which causes my jaw to drop and Hannan’s eyes almost to pop out. I’ll come back to that.)

Žižek’s fidgets and twitches are matched by his Slovenian accent that you could slice and dice with a blunt spoon. Normally this doesn’t matter, but add to that the sound distortion through the virtual meeting medium, and I fear that here he is often very difficult for my English ears to decipher. This is a pity because he is good, and knowing this I concentrate like fury – and though it’s sometimes hard work it is worth doing.

Ten minutes later Hannan begins his opposition, and the contrast is even greater than I expected. Whereas Žižek delights in going off on convoluted tangents, Hannan is keeping everything super-tight with coherence to match. Nevertheless the deep-frozen Hannan discipline that I have seen in the past thaws enough to allow more passion to show through, and that delights me.

The centre section of the debate consists of rebuttals, and then questions from each other, from viewers and from the chairman.

One question put to them concerns whether Marx’s philosophy would be better at combatting the climate crisis. What climate crisis? My instant reaction is that I am watching here something I have never seen on the subject of global warming – a debate. Al Gore used to parrot a slogan, “The debate is over!” What debate? I have never seen or heard of any actual proper debate, though I have seen plenty of debate challenges issued causing alarmists to scurry for cover. You’d have thought that alone would have weakened their standing, yet “the climate crisis” is blithely dropped into a question in a debate like this as if everyone accepts its very existence – while many seriously significant scientists don’t, as a recent speech on this blog testifies.

A question to Hannan is “who is your favourite communist thinker?” and to Žižek “who is your favourite conservative thinker?” As usual Žižek goes around the houses a few times before giving his answer. It comes at 1.11.35 and there is the afore-mentioned jaw-dropper which I shall not spoil, but Hannan’s face is a sight to behold.

The debate rounds off with a concluding speech from each of of them.

Is there a winner? Is a vote taken? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I have had a riveting hour and a half, and that satisfies me.

Andy Ngo: beaten by brutish beasts

At a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Franklin, Tennessee, in May 2021, there was a talk by Andy Ngo.

In all the thousands of online speeches I have watched, though a round of applause at the end, and in greeting at the beginning, is the norm I think this is the first time I have heard an audience break out in spontaneous applause at the mere mention of the speaker’s name at the beginning of his introduction.

The introduction is by Timothy Caspar, and it is he that is unexpectedly interrupted by applause on his mentioning Ngo’s name. Caspar’s reaction is excellent, as is the personal warmth that he injects into the introduction.

Ngo comes to the lectern just after 2:30 but can’t begin speaking till nearly the 3-minute mark, because now the applause is turbo charged by cheering. The applause at the end of the speech is more subdued, probably by the chilling story.

O judgement! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason.

I already knew some of at least the bare bones of Ngo’s account of his investigations into the activities of Antifa. For the purposes of this posting that was an advantage, because otherwise I would have been gaping at what he tells instead of carefully considering his delivery. If you are coming new to this story, be prepared. This is a brave man.

He begins by uttering a trigger-warning concerning the nature of some of the images he will be showing, and they are shocking. That warning is not sensationalist, nor is Ngo. His account of dramatic incidents is delivered in a calm, matter-of-fact and undramatic fashion, allowing the narrative to speak for itself. The only help he gives to the story comes in the shape of long pauses. It works pretty well, but the real quality of this speech is that the story is even being told.

The story he tells and the images he shows are outrageous, as is the inability of politically shackled police to combat it. But in many ways more shocking still is the role of the press. I often come across people who would classify themselves as well-informed who have at best the faintest, sketchiest idea of the unfettered anarchy that has been going on since last year in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis. This is because the world is told almost nothing, and the little that does get out is ridiculously biased and sanitised. There was last year a notorious piece of video footage of a US TV reporter talking of ‘a peaceful protest’ while behind him numerous buildings were blazing. This news blackout has overflowed to the UK. Proper journalism is, if not dead, at least comatose.

That is why when people like Andy Ngo defy death-threats to spread real news people of good will and espousers of truth break out in spontaneous applause.

Robert Woodson: inspirational

In April 2021 Hillsdale College, in its Christ Chapel Drummond Lecture Series, hosted a talk by Robert L. Woodson.

I am resolving to stop apologising for covering so many speeches from Hillsdale College. The habit began when they seemed, during the pandemic nonsense, about the only online source of live speeches to live audiences. The habit was somewhat reinforced when I found that, regardless of the standard of delivery or content preparation (which I could and did discuss), the messages these people were conveying were so wise. Even on rare occasions that I disagreed with them I found their arguments respectable – and that is refreshing these days.

U-oh! Larry Arnn is doing the introduction. We know him in particular from his speech that we covered only a couple of weeks ago. Timothy Caspar, politics lecturer, seems usually to do the honours for these Hillsdale talks, but when the college President gets up we know from experience that he regards this speaker as extra-special and that he will say so in terms that will be seriously moving for the speaker himself.

Yep! I was right.

This is really very good. Woodson shoots everything from the hip like a proper speaker, and it is very powerful. Those who don’t share my passion for the power of speaking without notes (which is actually quite easy when you know how) might gleefully point to small errors like when at 14:50, quoting a date, he says “2025” when he clearly means “1925”. The mistake is obvious and all the manifest sincerity pouring out of Woodson completely swamps the tiny slip.

Woodson’s philosophy, driving his work and this speech, is that when it comes to the deprived a hand-up is infinitely better than a hand-out, love is stronger than hate, and allowing your mentality to be ruled by resentment or self-pity robs you of your ability to lift yourself by your own bootstraps.

It is wonderful stuff, wonderfully conveyed, and full of astonishing inspirational stories that underpin his philosophy. He begins at 3:45, speaks through to the end of the video at 43:00 and it is worth every second.

William Happer and a tiny sentence

Continuing with my mining the rich seam of live speeches under the banner of Hillsdale College, I find a speech delivered at the National Leadership Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona, on 19 February 2021. The speaker is Dr William Happer, and his talk is entitled How to Think about Climate Change, though the video has been given a different title.

The introduction is by Timothy Caspar. We’ve heard many introductions from him, and as usual he tends to read most of it, because he is listing the academic and professional credentials of the speaker, and the list is huge and impressive. The brightest spots, from the speaking perspective however, are those when Caspar lifts his face and utters a personal aside. I am so hoping for a speech from him one day.

Happer begins at 2:10, and hands over to Questions at 45:47.

When I began blogging, speeches for and against “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming” were all the rage, and I quickly noticed one crucial detail that distinguished them. Alarmists limited themselves to frightening assertions (the earth is going to fry), while sceptics gave you data (no it isn’t, and here’s why). When the earth stubbornly failed to fry, alarmists changed from “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming” which can be measured and therefore falsified to “Climate Change” which has always happened, always will, and therefore can’t.

Alarmists slyly claimed to represent The Science, while those who had closely studied their campaign and how it contradicted source data, knew it really represented The Politics. It was politics that enabled them to gain the argument, even though it was all clearly hogwash. Today climate alarmism has spawned industries worth trillions of dollars so the smart money is forced to join the fiction. Buoyed up by this they have again changed the name, this time to “Climate Emergency”. Governments around the world (for reasons best known to themselves or their organ-grinders) fall over each other to announce ever more bonkers policies to tackle an imaginary problem while endangering real economies, cultures and environments. When the whole pack of cards collapses, as being built on lies it eventually will, I shall probably be long gone.

Back to this speech which throws up something significant about public speaking.

In three quarters of an hour there is a 21-second passage, between 3:50 and 4:11, that says all that needs to be heard. That small window includes a tiny but golden sentence –

There is no climate emergency.

Virtually all the rest of the time is devoted to streams of data which, though ably supporting that sentence are actually rather tedious. Had I been advising him I’d have pruned the whole thing down to less than ten minutes. Scientists in the audience already know those data, lay people scarcely care.

I repeatedly tell my trainees to keep their brushstrokes broad. It is just too easy to get bogged down in detail. There’s a quotation attributed to J.S.Bach, “It is not hard to compose, but it is wonderfully hard to let the superfluous notes fall under the table”. When you listen to his music, and its sublime economy, you really understand that quotation. One of the most important, and elusive, public speaking skills is judging how little detail you actually need. As I say in a speaking tip on my website,

Dumb is making sure your presentation dots every i and crosses every t:  Smart is making sure your audience understands and remembers the message.

Adam Andrzejewski needs to be heard

In March 2020 Hillsdale College held a National Leadership Seminar in Naples, Florida. One of the speakers was Adam Andrzejewski delivering a talk entitled “The Depth of the Swamp“. It’s an appropriate title for a speech from someone who has published a book called Operation Drain the Swamp.

Pretty well everywhere you look for information about this man, you find a pronunciation guide to his name. They vary, but “And-G-F-ski” seems to be one of the leading candidates. It reminds me of decades ago when I was preparing a radio interview with the conductor, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and telephoned a friend for pronunciation guidance. He said, “Roger-Svensky, but everyone calls him Noddy”. We Western Europeans are useless when it comes to pronouncing names originating east of Vienna.

Once again the introduction is by politics lecturer, Timothy Caspar, and Andrzejewski arrives at the lectern at 1:50.

His speech is truly, and deliberately, shocking. He firehoses at the audience a stream of data that amounts to horrendous financial corruption in several layers of the US government, a gold-plated gravy-train. If I were an American I’d go straight out to buy his book to learn more, but …

There is something that bothers me about Andrzejewski’s delivery, particularly during the early part of the speech, and it’s quite difficult to explain. He delivers hard and fast, but then he gives the impression of being one who drives himself hard and fast. He is obviously highly intelligent, and the facts, figures and sundry data pour out of him in a torrent. So far – you may think – so good.

Except the audience isn’t quite responding in the way it is evidently intended to. There are punchlines in abundance, some humorous most not but all of them worthy of serious note, yet his pause for reaction is each time a disappointment. My rule for trainees is never to pause on a punchline until and unless the audience forces a pause on you. He would do well to observe that rule.

Also there are ‘seizure points’, moments of brief silence when there shouldn’t be. These are not pauses for dramatic effect: they are random, sometimes mid-sentence. If he were reading a script (which he isn’t) they would be times when he lost his place. That is how they sound.

Briefly I wondered whether he had learnt this entire speech as a script, and those seizure points were momentary lapses of memory, but various signs caused me to abandon that theory.

I now have another theory, on which I could easily be way off the mark, but I’ll float it anyway.

Having written his book, and I’m prepared to bet that it is even punchier than this speech, he decided to go out and speak the same messages. The way to do that, he reasoned, was simply to broadcast his written material orally. To adjust for the different medium he would inject the speaking with bags of personality and vocal modulation. He would strive to avoid things that most public speaking coaches (though not this one) criticise, like “um” and “er” – and thereby all that would surely work.

It’s a logical assumption, and I don’t blame him if he made it, but a relationship with an audience is more nuanced and takes subtler building.

I suspect that he gets plenty of invitations to speak because his message is dynamite, so he could find his public voice and its optimum style by trial and error. That can be a painful apprenticeship, but he doesn’t strike me as a quitter. By the end of this speech his audience relationship had improved markedly, but it still wasn’t ideal.

At any rate I wish him well because people need to hear him.