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Is rhetoric a dirty word?

A talk and discussion about rhetoric

The term rhetoric is most often levied as a term of abuse, deployed when someone’s empty words are not backed-up by their deeds. More often than not, that someone is usually a politician, spinning a yarn. But do we only refer to rhetoric when it is done badly? Are the classical skills of rhetoric, something that we more usually associate with slime-balls and salesmen actually a higher art form that all of us would benefit from having reintroduced onto the school curriculum, where they could be found during the Renaissance? If we all learnt these skills, rather than sub-contracting out responsibility for them to sub-standard communication consultancies, perhaps it might have saved Gordon Brown from his recent You Tube nightmare? It might save us all from ever playing bullshit bingo in a meeting ever again and our personal lives could be made more effective. It could encourage a politician to articulate the case for an otherwise unpopular policy position, rather than live in fear of the Daily Mail or the Today programme (or the Daily Telegraph!). Paul Simpson will argue that, rather sticking to the facts, we should all be telling more tales. Without greater use of rhetoric, and the art of storytelling, ideas will increasingly cease to matter. Paul is a senior lecturer in public relations at the University of the Arts London. He is a former head of PR for BBC Radio 1, and has also spent time working in PR in politics, the civil service and the voluntary sector, as well as running his own consultancy.


Paul Simpson | talks


Date and Time:

25 August 2009 at 8:00 pm


3 hours



The Wheatsheaf
25 Rathbone Place

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Organised by:

Big Ideas
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For more information, visit www.bigi.org.uk

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