Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Conference Speechwatch number 1 - Nick Clegg

OK, this is not about politics. It's about speaking. Which makes sense, since I'm currently President of the Professional Speakers Association, and not a political commentator. So it's my take on the party leaders' conference speeches, starting with Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems.

He spoke for just over 38 minutes, on a stage with no lectern (though one lurked in the shadows at the rear of the stage, just in case. Unlike Cameron's speech in 2007, this one seemed to be delivered without any reference to notes, though there may have been prompt screens visible to him.

Nonetheless, it was a good performance, with well-used gestures and a number of strong applause lines. He needs to work on the strength of his voice, which lacks depth when delivering the big lines, but for his first leader's speech at a conference, he did nothing wrong.

Unlike other commentators, I'm unimpressed by politicians speaking without notes. It's something that I and my fellow professional speakers do several times a week, and actors are pretty good at it too. What I am impressed by is a speech with a strong theme, well delivered.

I'd give Nick Clegg 7 out of 10 for this one, and look forward to seeing Brown and Cameron.

Best wishes


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