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Politicians have a hard time of it.

Much maligned, often criticised, seldom praised, they are forced to deal with friends and enemies, the public and other politicians with smiles, kind eyes and as much grace and dignity as they can muster.

But every once in a while, the time comes when a politician has to suspend all niceties and go on the attack.


It is a tough call. The public do not generally respond well to it (this is probably what held Barack Obama back in the recent US Presidential debate). So if you are going to do it, you have to pick the right moment, choose the right opponent and do it in the right style.


Step up Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister.


Frustrated at the antics of the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, PM Gillard decided that enough was enough and she had to take a stand and launch an all out, no holds barred, blistering attack on Mr Abbott over the issue of sexism and misogyny.

Normally in a debate, the advice is to attack the argument, not your opponent. But for every rule, there is an exception that proves its validity and the first thing you will notice here is that Gillard brakes this rule, by levelling her sights squarely on Mr Abbott himself.


She uses some time-honoured rhetorical techniques to achieve her aims, particular the Rule of 3 (dividing points into three sections or categories) and anaphora (repetition of a key phrase or sequence of points for emphasis).


Though she is clearly seething, she maintains her self-control, marshaling her points in a structured and logical order to devastating effect and most importantly of all she adheres to the critical principle when involved in heated debates: Be passionate, not emotional.


By the time she finishes with a call to action for her supporters to oppose the motion of the Leader of the Opposition, you will swear that you had actually seen the hapless Mr Abbott grow smaller before your very eyes.


It is fair to say that Julia Gillard divides opinion as a Prime Minister. But this single performance in Parliament may serve to increase her poll rating a few points.


This is pretty powerful stuff. But don’t try it at home!

Don’t forget to book your place on our Presentation Skills Workshop: Stand Out in Work & Business through Powerful Presentations on Tuesday 23rd October 2012 at Guildhall, Moorgate.

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