Whenever I’m asked about the biggest single problem I’ve come across since migrating from academia into training and coaching, my answer is always the same, namely the sight and sound of speakers trying to get far too much information across – aided and abetted by programs like PowerPoint that implicitly encourage presenters to load up the screen with far too much detail.
It’s something that was very well understood by Winston Churchill, who said:
“If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time with a tremendous whack.”
But it’s never been very well understood by Gordon Brown, as was evidenced yet again in his address at yesterday’s pre-G20 press conference.
Announcing that there are five tests for the G20 summit may not have been quite as daunting to the audience as showing a slide listing seventeen items to be covered, as was once tried by someone I was trying to cure. But it hardly makes you sit up eagerly waiting to hear what’s coming up.
If you can bear to test this out for yourself, try watching the segment below, wait ten minutes and then see how many of his 5 points you can remember (and this clip, by the way, only took up 28% of the full statement, which serious anoraks can watch HERE ).
Other recent postings on Gordon Brown's speeches include:
• Gordon Brown is finding the Jacqui Smith expenses story more ‘delicate’ than he says
• It’s time Brown stopped recycling other people’s lines
• Brown’s ‘poetry’ heads up news of his speech to Congress
• Unexpected poetry in Gordon Brown's speech to the US Congress
• Gordon Brown’s model example of how to express condolences
Winston Churchill left other useful nuggets. He also said something like: If you want me to speak for two minutes, it will take me three weeks of preparation. If you want me to speak for thirty minutes, it will take me a week to prepare. If you want me to speak for an hour, I am ready now.
You're right: too many points. And each point was too wordy. And he kept looking down at his script when he should have been looking someone -- anyone -- in the eye.
Speeches are more about impressions and images than information and detail. Gordon Brown is conveying the impression he's getting lots of things done. The detail is almost irrelevant.
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