signature speech

The Great Dictator

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We continue with our series of discussing 5 of the most famous and greatest speeches from the movies. Charlie Chaplin was a genius, his speech in this movie still applies today. It was made in 1940!

The Great Dictator was Chaplin’s first film with dialogue. Chaplin plays both a little Jewish barber, living in the ghetto, and Hynkel, the dictator ruler of Tomainia. In his autobiography Chaplin quotes himself as having said: “One doesn’t have to be a Jew to be anti Nazi. All one has to be is a normal decent human being.”

Chaplin and Hitler were born within a week of one another. “There was something uncanny in the resemblance between the Little Tramp and Adolf Hitler, representing opposite poles of humanity, ” writes Chaplin biographer David Robinson, reproducing an unsigned article from The Spectator dated 21st April 1939:

“Providence was in an ironical mood when, it was ordained that Charles Chaplin and Adolf Hitler should make their entry into the world within four days of each other.  Each in his own way has expressed the ideas, sentiments, aspirations of the millions of struggling citizens ground between the upper and the lower millstone of society.  Each has mirrored the same reality – the predicament of the “little man” in modern society.  Each is a distorting mirror, the one for good, the other for untold evil.”

Chaplin spent many months drafting and re-writing the speech for the end of the film, a call for peace from the barber who has been mistaken for Hynkel. Many people criticized the speech, and thought it was superfluous to the film. Others found it uplifting. Regrettably Chaplin’s words are as relevant today as they were in 1940.

Watch the official clip:


The CYSS (Craft your Signature Speech) Master Your Message 1 Day Bootcamp with Michael-Don Smith on 27 July 2019.

The Share Your Story - Storytelling Workshop with Michael de Groot on 20 August 2019.

Both workshops qualify for a £40 discount when you use the code SOSPODCAST upon registration and/or checkout. 

Location: The Shakti Rooms, 3rd Floor Avebury House, 55 Newhall Steet, Birmingham B3 3RB

A Few Good Men

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With this episode we start a 5-episode series of discussing 5 of the most famous and greatest speeches from the movies. We start with discussing 'A Few Good Men', starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon. We unpick the content of the speech and examine it against the ABC of delivering speeches, the colourful language, the metonymies used to make the audience work and remember the speech. Enjoy!

In this dramatic courtroom thriller, LT Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer who has never seen the inside of the courtroom, defends two stubborn Marines who have been accused of murdering a colleague. Kaffee is known as being lazy and had arranged for a plea bargain. Downey's Aunt Ginny appoints Cmdr. Galloway to represent him. Also on the legal staff is LTJG Sam Weinberg. The team rounds up many facts and Kaffee is discovering that he is really cut out for trial work. The defense is originally based upon the fact that PFC Santiago, the victim, was given a "CODE RED". Santiago was basically a screw-up. At Gitmo, screw-ups aren't tolerated. Especially by Col. Nathan Jessup. In Cuba, Jessup and two senior officers try to give all the help they can, but Kaffee knows something's fishy. In the conclusion of the film, the fireworks are set off by a confrontation between Jessup and Kaffee.

The difference between a Speech and a Story?

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Michael-Don does some fabulous challenges throughout this episode to hold us both to account when discussing the differences between a Speech and a Story. We go back and forth, running around the Rabbit Hole, deciding how we can differentiate them. Is a speech just factual? Is a story just a narrative with characters? Is there absolutely no storytelling in speeches?

We would love to hear your views, comments and ideas for topics in future episodes. Reach out to us via Twitter, @mdonsmith and @stayingaliveuk. You can also find us both on LinkedIn: and Do connect with us there also.

What is a Story?

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In this third episode of the Story of a Speech podcast, we examine what a story actually is. What is the structure and it’s impact on the viewer/listener? Now because Michael de Groot is the resident storyteller, you will hear a lot of him in this episode, well of course it his specialist subject after all.  

We would love to hear your views, comments and ideas for topics in future episodes.  Reach out to us via Twitter, @mdonsmith and @stayingaliveuk. You can also find us both on LinkedIn: and  Do connect with us there also.