I am quoted in an article on charisma that appeared in The Financial Times.
Here is an excerpt:
rhythms of speech and developing an appreciation of what is easy on the ear are
important, says Steven Cohen, who teaches oral communication skills at the
University of Maryland and the Harvard Extension School, an offshoot of the
university that runs open-enrolment courses. His favourite techniques are
anaphora and epistrophe. The first device repeats words or phrases at the start
of successive clauses, as in Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The
second repeats them at the end, as in Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral refrain
“Yes We CAN!”. “Just as music can stir the emotions, language that appeals to
the ear can lift people’s sights and spirits, inspiring them to do things that
they would otherwise not,” he says.
However, even when sentences have a musical quality, it is often everyday
language that works best. US president John F. Kennedy’s famously used chiasmus
– in which the second half of a statement reverses the order of words in the
first − as in “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do
for your country”. The words were simple and direct – and their
impact all the greater.
Ultimately, however, sincerity is vital. It is not just what you say, or how
you say it, that convinces people you are not phoney. As Prof Cohen puts it:
“You can dress things up with all the anaphora and epistrophe in the world, but
if you don’t have a deep sense that something is important you’re not going to