02 January 2012

Effective Speechmaking

Scan down the list of recommended blogs and you’ll see a link to Max Atkinson.  He’s a British academic whose made a sideline career out of being a communications consultant.

While many of you have likely never heard of him, Atkinson has had a significant impact on modern speech making through his writing and consulting work. Much of what people now take for granted or what they consider to be established fact actually came out of Atkinson’s research over the past 30 years or so.

Dig into Atkinson’s background a bit and you will inevitably come across reference to his success with Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown. Before that, though, Atkinson gained public notoriety when he appeared on a British television program called “World in Action”.  They hired him to coach an inexperienced political activist as she delivered some public remarks at a Social Democratic Party conference.  She earned a standing ovation for her four minute speech.  Once the program aired, Atkinson’s phone started ringing with calls from other politicians who wanted his help.

The program is 27 minutes long.  Atkinson posted a good quality copy of the whole thing to his blog in 2010 as well as a youtube version which is broken into segments.  The picture quality on the segments isn’t that good. Bear in mind, though, that the thing came from a video tape made 25 years earlier.

Here’s the last bit with the actual speech, as delivered.

If this is all the time you have, that’s fine.  But if you want to get the full effect, go back and take the time to watch the whole thing.  You’ll find the impact of the speech is much greater.  You can spot some of the techniques employed.

The segment is about winning applause.  If you watch the whole thing, you’ll see how to deliver an effective speech.


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