Cooking Recipe: Presentation “a la Cicero”

You want to learn how to make a good presentation?


Who better than Cicero himself could teach you?

Here is the recipe of Chef Cicero, the master of Rhetoric in Ancient Rome:

Presentation "a la Cicero

Serves a small meeting as well as a thousand people conference. Adapt the length of the cooking to the length of the speech. Now and then, stir the pot. Adapt the cooking temperature and seasoning (delivery, especially) to the type of audience and the result expected…

First find the ingredients  (inventio):

  • Fresh and juicy ArgumentsMediterranean food
  • Piquant and sharp Counter-arguments
  • Toothsome Ideas
  • Scrumptious Examples
  • Sweet Anecdotes
  • Spicy Stories
  • Mouth watering Savory metaphors
  • Peppery Data
  • Gustatory Images

Arrange the ingredients in logical order, by importance and opportunity (dispositio)

Then, dress up these ideas and embellish them with style (elocutio)

Make sure you make them tasty and memorable (memoria)

Finally, serve and deliver with art of grace, dignity, gesture, modulation of voice and face (actio).

(Cicero denounces Cataline)

This recipe has crossed thousands of years and you can find it applied today, in 2010 in politics of course and courtrooms, but also in the corporate world, at the work place every where, every day, all across the world.

Every time you prepare a speech, a presentation, a mission statement, a  sales or marketing pitch, a web seminar, a tele class, a job interview, an elevator speech etc…, you benefit from Cicero's 5 canons of classical rhetoric, whether you're conscious of it or not!

5 Key Steps in Cicero's recipe to make a presentation

  • Invention : brainstorming and “playing devil’s advocate”, determining major topics, arguments and counter-arguments.The danger here might be to muse endlessly and collect a bountiful amount of ingredients, not all relevant .You can also use whatever you happen to have in your cupboard, fridge, cellar, kitchen garden,stock of previous presentations…Or you can combine the two and search and purchase exactly what you need, according to your core message, your intention and your audience.

  • Arrangement : it must include  an introduction, a statement of
    facts, a division between ideas (if appropriate), proof or evidence
    supporting all ideas, refutation of ideas, an optional digression, and
    a conclusion.It refers to structure and logic.

  • Style: Invention and arrangement are concerned more with what is being said, style is concerned with how it is being said. L'Art et la Manière…Your Style! It may include metaphors, ethos and pathos to  persuade , convey emotions and have a great impact. (we'll see that in other posts)

  • Memory: you need to have an innate knowledge of your topic, be able to memorize it and also enhance some of the most convincing aspects. You want to be prepared to deal with interruptions,feedback, questions and still stay on your track.It refers to learning and anticipation for an interactive presentation.

  • Delivery : like style, delivery focuses on how it is being said, all the non-verbal aspect of your presentation (voice,smile, eye-contact,gestures,posture,breathing, rythm, pauses, intonation, volume, etc…). You will adapt your delivery according to your audience and to the desired outcome of your speech.

In order to make Your Next Presentation a Success, you need to follow these simple steps, work hard and get yourself a seasoned presentation skills coach.

Contact me at Geronimo Leadership Coaching

One-on-one presentation coaching on content, design and delivery

email me :  tel 00(33)6 73 70 53 09

Sign up for my new product, offering the best of blended learning on YOUR desktop!

You can learn to present the classical way, and you can also learn to cook the Roman way, as if you were living in Cicero's Rome, 55 BC!

Can’t resist including this boar recipe, in hommage to Asterix
and Obelix!

Roast Wild Boar

"Aper ita conditur: spogiatur, et sic aspergitur ei sal et
cuminum frictum, et sic manet. Alia die mittitur in furnum. Cum coctus fuerit
perfundutur piper tritum, condimentum aprunum, mel, liquamen, caroenum et

"Boar is cooked like this: sponge it clean and sprinkle with
salt and roast cumin. Leave to stand. The following day, roast it in the oven.
When it is done, scatter with ground pepper and pour on the juice of the boar,
honey, liquamen, caroenum, and passum."
(Apicius, 330)

For this you would need a very large oven, or a very small
boar, but the recipe is equally successful with the boar jointed. Remove the
bristles and skin, then scatter over it plenty of sea salt, crushed pepper and
coarsely ground roasted cumin. Leave it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days,
turning it occasionally.
Wild boar can be dry, so wrap it in slices of bacon before you
roast it. At the very least wrap it in pork caul. Then put it into the oven at
its highest setting and allow it to brown for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven
temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4, and continue to roast for 2 hours per kg,
basting regularly.
Meanwhile prepare the sauce. To make caroenum, reduce
500ml wine to 200ml. Add 2 tablespoons of honey, 100ml passum, or
dessert wine, and salt or garum to taste. Take the meat out of the
oven and leave it to rest while you finish the sauce. Pour off the fat from the
roasting tin, then deglaze it with the wine and the honey mixture. Pour this
into a saucepan, add the roasting juices, and fat to taste.
Carve the boar into thin slices at the table, and serve the
sweet sauce separately."

 "Around the Roman Table
Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome
"by Patrick Faas

Around a Roman Table P. Faas

Now, you just need to find a boar…


10 thoughts

  1. In your post, Marion, we find not only an outstanding recipe for early Greek rhetoric, but also an awareness of the refuge and strength the past can be to us in the present.
    In the way we express ourselves, we find a contrast in Cicero’s day that juxtaposes the early Greek concept of life with fresh appraisals of modern intellectual activities. Fresh appraisals, like fresh herbs and spices, I should add, that find their beginning in a bygone era. “Beyond the last peaks and all the seas of the world” stands what Plato refers to as “the fair and immortal children of the mind.” In this serene republic, there exists one place above all others for sanity and balance of thought—Greece.
    Herein, we discover the magnificence of Cicero’s oratory as well as the significance of your alluring recipe, Marion. Some would say it is the boar that stands at the center of this meal. That is clearly a Western way of thinking, because our way is to consider each separate thing alone, by itself. The ancient Greeks, however, focused on the bigger picture. They always saw things as parts of a whole that has no beginning and no end. For example, consider the Parthenon temple. It dominates the scene precisely because it is a critical component of the scene. It was conceived and built in relation to the hills, the seas, and the arch of the sky. In the same way, the main course of our meal is but a small part of a feast that marks the celebration of a lifetime. Should we not say the same about our presentation? With forethought, I believe you are showing us how our presentation can—and must—be seen as a critical component of something larger. The message, for me, is to see it in relation to other things is to see it simplified.
    The chief aim of our communication, then, when placed against the backdrop of infinity (doesn’t that typically express how we feel when we stand in front of a very important crowd?) or, said differently, when a component of an immeasurable whole, must simplify associated complexities. For example, to the Greeks, humans were not chiefly different, but chiefly alike. Seems to me thinking in those terms may go a long way in simplifying our presentation, a way of bringing balance to mind and spirit. I am certain it had an effect on Cicero.
    In closing, Marion, I believe you have given us an excellent way to make our presentations do the same thing the Greek temple of Cicero’s day does, even thousands of years later: “Make the spectator aware,” as Edith Hamilton eloquently describes in her book, The Greek Way, “of the wideness and wonder of sea and sky and mountain range as he could not be if that shining marvel of white stone were not there in sharp relief against them.”
    Thank you for an awesome post, Marion. What’s that I smell wafting over the sea just now? Could it be Roast Wild Boar, a la Cicero? Hugs.

  2. Delicious recipe for success Marion 🙂 Have you read Robert Harris books on Cicero? Colin Lewis did some great wisdom notes on him. So true that we can always learn from the ancients – and then give it a modern flavour – just like you have done.

  3. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Jane Perdue submitted a comment on "Cooking Recipe: Presentation "a la Cicero""
    Thank you, Jane. Your compliments go right to my heart!
    And you’re right, DrJack is a marvelous poet and story teller…:-)

  4. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] @DrJackKing submitted a comment on "Cooking Recipe: Presentation "a la Cicero""
    Merci, Jack for this extraordinary comment.
    I coud easily picture you, dressed in a toga, like Cicero, and addressing the Agora with your inspiring and poetic speech!
    You make me want to read Edith Hamilton…
    Public speaking is very much about “making the spectator aware of the wideness and wonder of sea and sky and mountain range as he could not be if that shining marvel of white stone were not there in sharp relief against them.”
    I love this metaphor, Jack, thank you so much for sharing it with us!
    Warm hugs –Marion.

  5. Thank you, Zoe.
    I have not read Robert Harris on Cicero(is it the suspenseful novel Imperium?), but have studied with a Professor of Law a long time ago, who introduced us to rhetorics and Mister Cicero!
    It reminds me also that during my second year of latin (I was maybe 12 or 13), I did my first attempt to cartoon. It was an illustration of the life of Aeschylus, with latin words in the speech bubbles. I may even still have it! What attracted me in this story was that it was very visual: imagine, poor Aeschylus got killed by a turtle, dropped by an eagle, who mistook the philosopher’s bold head for a stone…
    Coming back to you, Zoe,you take us to beautiful ancient places with your quirky travels, and give them a very quirky flavor!

  6. Marion. Marvelous. Fantastic, Excellent. Bravo. So well said. Far too often a poor presentation drags down an excellent idea. Thank you for passing this along…..

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