COMMUNICATIONS FOR PUBLIC LEADERSHIP
2018/2019, Semester 2
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (Lee Kuan Yew School Of Public Policy)
Modular Credits: 4
Public policy is not just made. It must also be explained. To be effective in positions of authority, public leaders should be able not just to analyse policy, but to talk and write about it as well — to communicate succinctly and persuasively, to frame issues, and to grapple with the worlds of ideas and perceptions, all taking place within a fast-moving digital media environment. This course is designed to help future leaders improve their ability to speak and write in challenging situations, from winning over hostile audiences to giving TED-style talks and writing punchy op-eds suitable for publication in global media outlets. Having taken it, students will emerge with a deeper understanding of differing styles of communication in public life — and the ability to begin to develop their own.
: Communication for Public Leadership
Academic Year 2018/19, Semester 2
Tuesday, 2pm – 5pm, Room TBC
: James Crabtree
Associate Professor of Practice, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
Faculty Associate, Centre on Asia and Globalisation
Teaching assistant: Johan Seland
Office hours: e-mail for an appointment
Public policy is not just made. It must be explained.
To be effective in positions of authority, future public leaders must be able not only to analyse policy, but to write and talk about it too. Ideas must be made intelligible. Audiences must be persuaded. Sceptics must be won over. The press must be handled. Leaders in democratic societies need to be able to communicate succinctly and strategically, be that with their colleagues, or the wider public via an increasingly fast-moving digital media environment.
At the heart of this lie two old-fashioned skills: the ability to speak with confidence, and to write with clarity, in order to address a diverse, general audience of non-experts. The speech, panel discussion, and media appearance remain a vital part of any career in public policy. Future leaders must also grapple with a world in which Twitter and Facebook require public figures to communicate with mass audiences in entirely new and complex ways.
This course provides practical techniques to improve student's spoken and written abilities, and helps them to practice these skills in challenging real-world situations, from winning over hostile audiences to writing punchy op-eds suitable for publication in global media outlets.
Communication For Public Leadership
will also provide students with a deeper understanding of the styles and theories of communication and persuasion needed to succeed in public life, in an exhilarating intellectual journey that moves from Aristotle and Cicero to the TED conference.
Communication for Public Leadership
is divided roughly into three sections.
The first provides a foundation in classical rhetoric, alongside more modern techniques persuasion. It then introduces the basic skills of speechmaking, op-ed writing, and public presentation.
The second section develops these ideas further. It introduces more advanced persuasion techniques, drawn from social psychology and behavioural science, to help students persuade audiences whose cultural identities and political values might not match their own. It tests students’ ability to communicate in real-world scenarios, for instance by facing sceptical audiences or delivering bad news. It also challenges students to develop their own communication style, by speaking with passion and confidence about their own values and political beliefs.
The final section is more practical. It will return to op-ed writing, looking at how to develop an individual writing style, and pitch successfully to global publications. It will examine the way in which communication techniques are used in real-world policy situations, for instance by those running government machines seeking to manage the media, including in crisis communication situations. It will also help students to prepare to answer hard questions, both from the media and on public panel discussions. The course will conclude with a lesson about ceremonial speaking.
Having completed this course, students will:
Understand in broad terms the history of ideas relating to political communication, how they have evolved, and how they might be applied intelligently to public policy.
Have a firm grounding in theories of persuasion and communicating for public policy.
Be given a range of practical ways to think about improving their own approach to winning over audiences for policy ideas.
Appreciate the diversity of theories that underpin approaches to communication in public life
By the end of the course, each student will have participated in four speaking exercises. The first two will be 3 minutes, and will involve first solving a policy problem and then reframing a policy issue. The third will be 4 minutes long involve explaining your beliefs and values. The final exercise will be a 2 minute toast, on the last week of class. The third and fourth speeches will be given entirely without notes.
By the conclusion of the course each student will also have written 2 op-eds suitable for publication.
Class meetings will often be split into two halves. The first will involve practical exercises, most of which will have students giving short speeches, and receiving feedback from their classmates. The second will involve lectures and class discussion. The speaking exercises mean that class sessions may, from time to time, slightly run over their allotted 3 hour time period.
A number of class sessions will also feature invited guest speakers, with professional backgrounds suited to the material under discussion. The format for these discussions with be fire-side chats with the instructor, followed by questions from students, rather than a guest lecture.
Student feedback is an important part of the course. Students are expected to learn to give constructive comments to their peers, and provide helpful oral and written feedback following speaking exercises. This will form a portion of the class grade.
Students should expect to be challenged during the course, by taking part in speaking exercises in which they are asked to talk about and justify their own political beliefs and values. These discussions will remain private and off the record.
No laptops or smartphones are to be used in class at any time.
You are also expected to arrive a few minutes before class begins. Late arrival will count against your class participation grade.
Any absence from class sessions must be explained in advance by e-mail, including for reasons of illness. In the case of illness, a doctor’s note should be provided.
The “rhetorical triangle” — one of the key concepts in the course.
During the first lecture, student will be split into two groups: Red Team and Blue Team. Students in each group will generally give speeches on alternate weeks, meaning that students in Red Team will make their first speech in week 3, and students in Blue Team will make their first speech in week 4, and so on.
In the second half of the course the order of the groups will be reversed. To be fair to both groups, this ensures that Red Team does not always speak before Blue Team.
Course Audience and Requirements
There are no academic prerequisites for this class.
Enrollment will be limited to 30 students
, due to time constraints involved in speaking exercises. Course structure may change depending on enrollment levels.
If the course is over-subscribed, priority will be given to second year MPP and single-year degree students. The course will be run again in the second semester, so students who cannot take it during the autumn should be able to take it during the spring.
This course is intended to be open to all LKY students, regardless of background or prior spoken and written English ability.
Those who believe they lack confidence in their public communication or writing are more likely to benefit from the course, not less.
The course grade will reflect improvement and progression during the course, in addition to absolute ability.
Specifically, not speaking English as your first language should not be a barrier for this course. Again, students whose first language is not English, and who do not have a background in public speaking, are likely to get the most out of it.
Preparation time will be high relative to other LKY courses. Reading requirements will be heavier in the first third of the course.
Students are expected to have completed
mandatory reading. Preparation for class may involve watching a small number of videos, although this will only be mandatory where indicated. Students should expect to be “cold-called” during class sessions, both in relation to reading and other issues.
Student speeches will be videotaped, and students will be expected to review those videotapes after class, and send brief reflections by e-mail to the instructor. These videos will be confidential.
There are no compulsory books for this course. However,
preparing for this course, it would be useful to buy one book, which provides a general introduction to techniques of persuasion:
You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
, by Sam Leith.
Students may find a second book helpful in providing a general introduction to the same subject:
Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion,
by Jay Heinrichs
The PDF for this book is available online [see link in week 1 reading].
Although the reading and practical examples for this class are often drawn from the West, the course will include communication traditions and examples from different Asian contexts. Students are encouraged to discuss examples from their own and other countries.
Readings marked [
] mean that you can get the reading by clicking through to the link online.
mean that a PDF copy of the reading is on IVLE.
In addition to your speech preparation and op-ed writing, there are a variety of pre-class assignments in many weeks of the course. Completing these is mandatory and will count towards your participation grade.
Assignments will be submitted by specific times via a Google Doc form, which will be circulated on IVLE. Please do not submit any assignment on e-mail as a Word document.
The grading scale ranges from A+ to F, although in practice grades tend to vary between A+ for exceptional work and C for work which is poor. The NUS norm is that only around one third of students in any class will receive an A grade, meaning an A-, A or A+.
Grades will be given for a mixture of speeches, written exercises and class participation. There is no final exam.
Speech 1 = 10%
Speech 2 = 15%
Speech 3 = 20%
Speech 4 = 5%
Op-ed 1 = 12.5%
Op-ed 2 = 17.5%
This is comprised of a mixture of qualitative assessment from the instructor with quantitive measures including on-time attendance, speaking in class, and on-time completion of pre-class exercises. Penalties will be imposed for late assignments.
About the Instructor
James Crabtree is an associate professor of practice at the LKY School, where he is also a senior fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation. He first joined the school in 2016 on sabbatical from his previous position at the
, where he was most recently Mumbai Bureau Chief, leading coverage of Indian business. He is also currently a fellow of the Asia programme at Chatham House in London, and a columnist for
Nikkei Asia Review
. James's book,
The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age
, was published in mid-2018.
James has previously worked in a range on positions spanning journalism and public policy. Before joining the FT as its comment editor in 2010, he was deputy editor at
, Britain’s leading monthly magazine of politics and idea. He has also written for a range of other global publications, including the
. Before returning to journalism, James was a senior policy advisor in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He has worked for various think tanks in London and Washington DC, and spent a number of years living in the United States, initially as a Fulbright Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Start of Semester: 14 January 2018
Recess Week: 23 February –32 March 2018
Reading Week: 23-27 April 2018
Exam Week: 20 April – 26 May 2018
The power of rhetoric & persuasion
Secrets to communicating clearly & simply
Writing op-eds that get read, and have impact
How to frame a winning argument
Understanding your audience, and delivering tough messages
The hidden wiring of persuasion
Giving a compelling policy presentation
The power storytelling and speaking with emotion
Writing with impact, and getting published
Speaking under pressure
Public Communication in action
Toasts and Tributes
No Class / Final Assignment
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week