What’s the matter with corporate speeches?

The author of Thank You for Arguing tells us why so many corporate speeches fail to persuade.

Jay Heinrichs knows that most corporate speeches—and even many political speeches—are not meant to persuade.

“They’re meant to enhance ethos, the audience’s perception of you,” he says, explaining the first of many Greek terms he’ll rattle off as casually as an auto mechanic would say, “Give me the seven-eighths.”

But most corporate speeches don’t even accomplish that, said Heinrichs, the rhetoric expert who wrote the best-selling Thank You for Arguing and writes the wildly-popular-among-word-geeks-like-us blog Figarospeech.com.

Why don’t modern speeches accomplish even the humble goal of polishing the CEO’s image or enhancing the corporate brand? It’s partly speechwriters’ fault and partly Americans’ fault, he told Ragan.com in an interview.

What’s the matter with modern speeches?

More or less, Heinrichs says, speechwriters write “extremely well-crafted prose” that executives read out loud. Such executives would be better advised, Heinrichs says, to “Shut the hell up! Nobody’s listening to you.”

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