At a memorial service held in the European Parliament in Strasbourg earlier today Former US president Bill Clinton paid tribute to former German chancellor Helmut Kohl.
“All of us who came – why? Because Helmut Kohl gave us the chance to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. Bigger than our terms of office, bigger than our fleeting careers.”
So why is it that we sit up and listen when Clinton speaks – aside from the man and the occasion?
Here are just some of the devices Clinton employs. Watch the video.
“Why?” – so simple and yet so effective. Remember, always have questions for your audience, because whatever they are doing, when they hear the question part of the brain will react and you’ll have your audience thinking.
“ …bigger than ourselves. Bigger than our terms of office, bigger than our fleeting careers.”
The magic number, for repetition, for emphasis for memory.
Making it personal
“all of us sooner or later will be in a coffin like that” – almost Hamletesque in the metaphor about the ephemeral nature of our existence, whoever we were. Notice too the pointing to the coffin – directing the audience’s attention. Also elements of carpe diem and making the most of your chance in life.
Clinton goes on to take us into the future, the future of our children. He becomes deeply personal in expressing his love for Kohl and engages the audience with anecdotes about restaurants, appetite as well as Kohl’s political achievements.
Consummate Clinton – and he still does it better than most. “Because of him, we’re here”.
If you cannot see the video in your browser click here.