6 October 2011

Cameron's too good a speaker to be following Mrs Thatcher into the teleprompter trap

A couple of years ago, I posted some video clips showing how Margaret Thatcher's speech-making became less effective when she stopped using hard copy scripts and started reading speeches from teleprompter screens (HERE).

A few months later, I realised that I'd been mistaken in thinking that David Cameron was having problems reading from screens - as it turned out that he wasn't using an Autocue or any other form of teleprompter at that time (HERE).

Cameron follows Thatcher down the same hill
But yesterday Mr Cameron had not only taken to using a teleprompter for his leader's speech, but was also encountering the same kinds of difficulties that diminished Mrs Thatcher's effectiveness all those years ago.

When using a script on a lectern, she would return her eyes to the text, clear her throat and close her mouth after making an applaudable point, leaving no one in any doubt that the time had come for them to get their hands apart. But, when reading from teleprompter screens, her head stayed up gazing into space, with the result that her applause rate fell dramatically (video examples HERE)

And there were some rather long sections in Mr Cameron's speech yesterday where the lack of applause was noticeably absent

Here you can see see two examples of him falling into the same trap as Mrs Thatcher . In both cases, he sets up what's coming as an applaudable point. But in both cases, nothing happens for so long (2-3 seconds) that he's already carried on again by the time it finally does - at which point he has to break off.

Also in both cases he seems to acknowledge the glitch with a slight nod, indicating, perhaps: "yes, it is your turn and you should jolly well have started a bit sooner than that"?.


Given that Cameron is more effective than most of his contemporaries at speaking from scripts on a lectern, I'd advise him to ditch the teleprompter forthwith.

Or, if his aides have cooked up some reason that's convinced him it's a good idea, they should also convince him that he's going to need a lot more practice if he's to get anywhere near his effectiveness with old-fashioned scripts (or, for that matter, with no script at all, as in the 10 minute speech that clinched the leadership for him at the beauty parade in 2005).


Anonymous said...

Saw Boris deliver from a hard copy script the morning before - much more effective. Thougfh helped that he had much higher quality gags, and much better comic timing.

Anonymous said...

"... the lack of applause was noticeably absent"? It must have been a very good speech, indeed.