A victory for ‘We the People’.

It’s usually good for speakers to remember it’s not about ‘me’, it’s about ‘we’. If you cast yourself as the hero, you are less likely to be perceived as such.

I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me.

Humility rarely fails the speaker. Audiences get tired quickly of ego. And one of the best ways of showing humility is to say it literally: ‘I am humbled’. 

Making this vision real is the Task of our Time. 

Alliteration. One of the oldest tricks in rhetoric. Best when you don’t overdo it. But used subtly, it’s a Timeless Trick 😊 

I’m Jill’s husband.

Family first. Speakers will usually benefit by giving the audience something a little more personal – ideally stories that show their spouse, parents or children in a positive light.

America bent the arc of the moral universe.

Grandiose language won’t always be appropriate in business. But metaphor can allow you to exaggerate and overclaim without being called to account.

To my campaign team and all the volunteers.

Always, always thank the team. This goes for pretty much any speech you give. 

It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature.

Statesmanlike appeal to calm. Far better than criticising an opponent or competitor directly, emphasise how your qualities will differ.

Marshall the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.

Despite the healing message, Biden uses fighting language. This is very common in speeches – a combination of soft and hard words, demonstrating a package of empathy and resolve. 

Now that the campaign is over – what is the people’s will? What is our mandate? 

Rhetorical questions. Everyone learns about these at school. Why? Because they never go out of fashion.

America has always been shaped by inflection points. 

Storytelling is about focusing on moments of change, when the character or narrative shifts. In business storytelling, you need to look for those inflection points. 

I’ve always believed we can define America in one word: possibilities.

A useful exercise for any leader: can you simplify your central idea to just one word? I’ve been working on this a lot with CEOs and executives during the lockdown.

Ahead to an America that…Ahead to an America that…Ahead to an America that…

Repetition of “ahead to” three times. Called the rhetorical ‘Rule of 3’. Engages the ear.

This is a great nation. And we are a good people. 

Contrasting pair of short sentences – with 6/7 beats in each half.

And we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. 

Repeating words with inverse order. This requires a bit of work, but worth it when you can nail it (called Antimetabole in the fancy lingo of rhetoric).

‘And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings’. 

Poetic/metaphorical/spiritual quote. To be used very sparingly in business situations. But you can get away with more of the soaring sentiment if you are quoting a passage from an older text.

A nation united. A nation strengthened. A nation healed.

Repeating the same single word or phrase in successive phrases (this is called Anaphora in Rhetoric). Very popular at the end of political speeches. A toned-down version can also work in business speeches and presentations.