5 October 2009

Surely it's time someone coached Cameron to use a teleprompter

At the risk of being accused of blogging about the same point too much, I was astonished to see a clip on the BBC TV's 10 o'clock News tonight of David Cameron speaking at the Tory Party conference in which he showed, yet again, that he's ignored the advice I gave him a year ago about spending far too much time looking at one of the autocue screens without looking in the other direction.

At one stage in today's excerpt, he spent 22 seconds looking to his right before managing to drag his head away to look at the other half of the audience on the other side of him.

It was also noticeable when he spoke at the Open University in May (HERE).

Nor is he alone, as Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown suffer from the same problem, as too did Margaret Thatcher (HERE).

What really flabbergasts me is that the advisors of politicians in such front-line positions don't seem to notice the problem or, if they do, they don't seem to think matters enough to do something about helping their bosses to solve it.

After all, reminding and coaching someone to remember to look from side to side more frequently is hardly the most difficult technique to get across, however busy and important their bosses might be.

What's more, there's plenty of time between now and his big speech on Thursday to fix it. And, needless to say, I shall be watching with interest.


Brian Jenner said...

I think it's a case of expert persuasion skills.

Once they have got themselves in that position they convince themselves that they know better than anyone else.

You have to flatter them hugely and then hope they take an interest in what you think.

I'd love to meet a politician who could read criticism and say, fair cop guv, I can see you have a point. Come over and give me the benefit of your wisdom. In fact I'd love to meet anyone in position of power who can make that sort of judgement.

Max Atkinson said...

At the risk of sounding sycophantic, one of the things that made Paddy Ashdown such a pleasure to work with was his willingness to seek and act on professional advice.

When he was running for the party leadership in 1988, the media started trying to find out who was helping him with his speeches. He asked me if I'd mind if he mentioned me, to which I replied that it might not do his reputation much good to let it be known that 'Dr Claptrap', who'd conducted such a wicked experiment at the SDP conference a few years earlier, was lurking in the background.

His reply: "Not a problem for me - my line is that, if I want help on something I don't know much about, whether it's IT, advertising or speech-making, I go to professionals who can give the best advice."

And so it was that, within months of becoming leader, he'd recruited one of the top creative directors from one of the top ad agencies to write and produce party political broadcasts, and one of the top corporate image consultants start work on designing a new logo (result: the now familiar LibDem flying bird emblem).

What's more, he's confessed/written about some of this in his published diaries. So maybe he is the exception that proves your rule - with which, in all other respects, I agree entirely.