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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Even older learning...

Watching Barack Obama's inauguration speech yesterday, I have to admit that I have slightly fallen under the spell. On the today programme this morning one of the reporters, I forget whom, said that although Obama had resolutely avoided campaigning on a race basis his election was one of the watershed moments of our generation. Things that we didn't think would happen in our lifetimes; the fall of the Berlin wall, the end of apartheid, 9/11 and a black US president.

Amongst many other things that I found interesting (but do not feel qualified to comment upon here) I was awed by his mastery of rhetoric. Indeed rhetoric is one of the oldest elements of study in the world. Forming part of the trivium, rhetoric along with grammar and logic was the core of liberal arts education from the Roman period through to the establishment of the first universities in Europe in the middle ages on to the enlightenment, which of course links nicely to the founding fathers to whom Obama alluded.

Given that one of the most popular forms of business training of the last 30 years has been presentation skills, maybe it is time to revisit what we have known for centuries of the art of getting a message across?

If you want to think about this further, click on the link to rhetorical terms and see how many you think Obama used yesterday.

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