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CLASS ANNOUNCMENT: Registration for the Winter 2015 Group Class Public Speaking for Beginners and the Truly Terrified is OPEN!

This year I am running two classes of my 8 session public speaking course. This challenging fun, intensive course will enable you to overcome your anxiety, unleash your voice, and create presentations that will capture your audience's attention.

The Tuesday class meets every two weeks from January 26 to April 26, and the Wednesday class meets every two weeks from January 20 to April 20.

Make 2016 the year you finally become the speaker you need to be! Register online now!

Click here to register for the TUESDAY class

Click here to register for the WEDNESDAY class

Full course descriptions are on the registration pages. You can also contact me at 780-966-2401 to register over the phone.

Have questions? Call me at 780-966-2401. I'm happy to discuss your speaking goals and class details!

Lauren's Blog

Thoughts, insights and ramblings on communication, public speaking, and what makes our work and businesses tick

How Using Dead Languages Brings Life to Your Speech

How Using Dead Languages Brings Life to Your Speech

Advance warning, dear reader, I’m indulging a desire to really geek out on some rhetoric here. I invite you to come along and get your word nerd on with me…


I’m currently making a new series of Pop-Up Rhetoric videos (they aren’t released yet, but you can check out other Pop-Up Rhetoric videos on my YouTube channel). These videos bring to life the analyses of 3 political speeches and a presidential debate featured in Appendix 1 of my book.

This project means I’m mired in rhetorical terminology – mostly Latin and Greek. Pathos! Logos! Concessio! Epizeuxis! Using these terms always means risking making people’s eyes cross or putting them to sleep. These were the kinds of terms that high school students were required to memorize in English class, creating an irritable soup of confusion and ennui.

So why do I insist on using them in my videos, my talks, and my training? Why do I talk about Logos instead of logic, or concessio instead of conceding?

I’ve got three reasons.

First, it’s because simplified English translations of these words don’t work very well.

The direct translations tend to be inaccurate – they miss core concepts and usually require lengthy explanations. Dignitas is more faceted and complex than the closest English word ‘dignity’ implies. It’s much easier (and more fun) to say epizeuxis than it is to say “repeat a word over and over with increasing force for vehemence or emphasis.”

Second, using technical terms changes fuzzy, ephemeral ideas into hardnosed tools that can be wielded strategically.

Many of us have a mental block when it comes to developing a strategic approach to speaking. We think that skillful speaking is more alchemy and instinct than careful planning. We spend all our time tweaking the content or memorizing lines than we do figuring out how to use language, voice, and body to give our words bigger impact.

Third, using technical terms helps strip away some of the baggage and pre-conceptions about rhetoric and how it can be used.

Click to Tweet: Technical jargon can help us overcome the baggage of colloquial terms. #communication #lifehack

For example, most people instinctively translate logos into logic, and then confuse ‘logic’ with truth or fact. But logos is less about truth or fact and more about what you choose to offer as evidence or proof based on your audience’s viewpoint. Logos also incorporates how you arrange that evidence within your argument to make it as convincing as possible. Using a logical fallacy is fair game when playing with the logos part of your argument. All those details about logos tend to get lost or overlooked when we call it “logic.”

Similarly, I find people can think more objectively about strategically using emotional hooks in their speech if we talk about figuring out the pathos than if we talk about how to work the audience’s emotions. Working people emotions feels icky and manipulative. But digging into different pathos devices seems more strategic.

Truth be told, I really don’t care if people can remember the technical names of different rhetorical devices and concepts. Heck, I can’t remember them all either – that’s why God made reference books. I’m much more concerned with whether people are able to apply the concepts they carry.

But if you find yourself struggling to get your head into the rhetoric game, or are looking for a way to express or nail down an especially slippery concept, or need to step back and really examine the effectiveness of your presentation, consider putting your toga on and switching over to those good ol’ dead languages. That rhetorical jargon might just help you unlock your genius.

News, Developments, and Upcoming Talks/Events

  • See me in action at Nerd Nite November 26 at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, AB! How To Lose Friends and Manipulate People: The Fine Art of Bamboozlement (title may change depending on my caprice). Click here for ticket information and to learn more about Nerd Nite.
  • Currently in development - my online digital course "Masterpiece Presentations: Your step-by-step method for creating high-impact presentations"

Category Archives: Techniques

Demagogue: a lesson in rhetoric


Demagogue, n.: A leader of a popular faction, or of the mob; a political agitator who appeals to the passions and prejudices of the mob in order to obtain power or further his own interests; an unprincipled or factious popular orator. (Oxford English Dictionary)

In democracies the principal cause of revolutions is the insolence of the demagogues; for they cause the owners of property to band together, partly by malicious prosecutions of individuals among them (for common fear brings together even the greatest enemies), and partly by setting on the common people against them as a class.

-Aristotle, Politics, Book 5 (20).

All good speakers understand how to work the three central aspects of rhetorical argument – logos (the logic that matches the listener’s worldview), ethos (the character that the listener sees as admirable or desirable), and pathos (the listener’s emotions).

Demagogues work with logos, ethos, and pathos by using people’s fears, anger, and frustrations. They have a clear understanding of who their target audience is, and they appeal to their basest reasoning and emotions. This was precisely what Trump did. He identified his target voters and played to them in a spectacularly effective way.

Trump wanted the evangelical vote, so he said things that would appeal to evangelicals (regardless how his behaviors contradicted his words). He wanted the disenfranchised blue collar vote, so he found their pain points and spoke about those who took or threatened their jobs (despite his own use of undocumented migrant workers and other shady dealings). He wanted the vote of those tired of the same old thing in Washington, so he associated and compared stagnant political activity with Clinton’s years in office.

In true demagogue fashion, Trump stoked the frustration, disillusionment, and rage of his supporters. He reduced complex socio-and-geo-political issues to us-versus-them sound bites. He offered no clear policy, no sober analysis, but by god did he ever get people worked up.

I can’t pretend to be unbiased when writing this – I believe that Trump’s campaign was repugnant. I also fully realize that the results of the campaign aren’t just down to how Trump campaigned. It’s a vastly complicated scenario that has been building for years. Many, many people cast their votes as ways to reject or protest things they didn’t believe in or couldn’t stomach, rather than voting because they were in 100% agreement with the candidate they chose. Politics and political choices is muddy business.

But in this post, I’m looking at the campaign from a speech and rhetoric perspective. And even when you step back from the emotions and take another look at the messaging, the speeches, the debates, and the Tweets, there can be no denying that his campaign was run on words of fear and hate and self-protection. His campaign was run in the style of a demagogue.

Still, we need to give credit where credit’s due. While listening to Trump speak and debate like eating word salad, the way he targeted and provoked his supporters was masterful. That’s a lesson that any speaker should take note of. It’s a way to win arguments and to craft powerful speeches. It might not be the most upstanding strategy, but it is a strategy you could use.

And before you, or I, or anyone who speaks to a crowd cries the they’ll never emulate a demagogue, take note: these tactics are tempting. They’re tempting because they work. They can sneak in and infiltrate even a well-meaning speaker’s words. So remember the demagogue, take a second or third look at your speech or talk, and be mindful of the strategies you choose to use.

The Practice Rant

The Practice Rant

  The secret isn’t innate confidence. It isn’t a good slide deck, either. It’s not positive, pre-show affirmations. It’s not killer quotes, “life changing” stories, or hilarious content. It definitely isn’t picturing your audience in their underwear.* The above all play a part in great presentations (with the exception of the underwear visualization), but they… Continue Reading

Spending more time worrying about your speech than working on it?
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