The art of persuasion 1: Rhetoric

Three ancient pillars of communication

George Orwell once wrote that a classical education would be impossible without corporal punishment. Maybe that’s why it isn’t taught in schools today.  A classical education was demanding. It included rhetoric: the art of effective speaking and writing.

Read more

The art of persuasion 2: How to argue

Six structures of argument (Rhetoric)

What is an argument?

In the Argument Clinic, a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an absurdist comedy series, a man pays for a five-minute argument. The customer goes to a room where a man behind a desk hurls abuse at him. The customer interrupts saying he paid for a five-minute argument, and this is not an argument. The abuse hurler apologizes explaining this is Abuse, Argument is next door.

Read more

Labels: A necessary evil

Lawyer and politician, Arlen Specter, started as a Democrat, then became a Republican, and then went back to being a Democrat again. As you can imagine, he resisted being labeled. What he actually said was, “I don’t like labels. I think they conceal more than they reveal — sort of like a bikini.”

Read more

Plan your whole business book

“Any organization that won’t take the trouble to be both clear and personal in its writing will lose friends, customers, and money.”

— William Zinsser, in his 30th-anniversary classic, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Read more

Distraction and concentration

Focus

Concentration is at a premium in an increasingly distracted world. And this is why writing a book is so difficult for the busy professional. Writing a book requires long periods of distraction-free thinking-time, focus, and solitude.

Author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, termed Flow as a state of hyper-concentration where we lose all sense of time. We become what we do. Focus or distraction become habitual.  But concentration is a skill we can develop with practice. An incremental approach works well. On the other hand, constant interruptions weaken our ability to focus and to think through complexity. When it comes to concentration it’s a case of use it or lose it.

Read more

Business book titles

Text reads: WHY?
What’s in it for me?

Why should readers read your book? Every business book has a value proposition. Writing a one-sentence reply will help clarify your thinking. Most of us form opinions quickly. And this is true when it comes to business book titles and introductions. First impressions count.

Read more

Slow down, get smart

You’d think promoting counter-urgency in business would be as popular as a middle-of-the-night-car-alarm-wake-up-call. Do a news search on “slow and business” and you get nothing but misery, pain, and frustration. Don’t we associate slow with failure, inefficiency; and perhaps worse — laziness?

Read more

Incubation: The slow zone

Life cycles of organizations, people, businesses and products, have predictable stages. Each stage is in conflict with other stages.

Read more

After losing an argument

I was browsing in a New York bookstore when I overheard a man ask for a book on how to win an argument. The two young women behind the counter giggled. I wondered if they knew about Demosthenes. Persuasion is a serious subject, and this bookstore customer wasn’t just a victim, he was doing something about his problem.

Read more