Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Media Coach 27th September 2013

More political speechmaking; Football howlers; More 007; Asda goes mad; A lucky bag of speaking tips; Don’t Crick up your interview; Are you sure that’s a good idea?; An interview with Carolyn Strauss; Music from Jim Boggia

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#LAB13 Conference Speechwatch 2013 - Ed Milliband, Labour

Ed Milliband walked through a crowd on stage to a huge welcome. He received a standing ovation before he spoke a word. Once again he worked without an autocue, and away from a lectern. In most camera shots, he was backed by a group of what appeared to be very tidy sixth-form schoolboys and young women.

He began with a personal story about Ella Phillips, who he picked up after a bike accident, and who called him an "action hero". He was using a typical stand-up comedy opening, and had a good punch line; "She was concussed". Nice timing too.

His opening message, repeated three times, was "Britain can do better than this", with the third part of the tricolon being a variant "We're Britain, we can do better than this". He then quickly returned to last year's One Nation theme, and another slogan "Are you satisfied?". However, he returned to the "Britain can do better.." many times. I lost count after the first twenty mentions.

He made full use of triplets: "This is what I believe, this is where I stand, this is the leadership Britain needs". He also used one of his favourite call and response gambits "Do the Tories get it?" "No" was a quiet response. "Oh come on, you can do better than that" "No" they roared. Panto time.

It was a wide-ranging speech, pointing out times when he did what was "the right thing to do". He thanked the troops, the police, the teachers, the doctors and nurses. He thanked ordinary blokes, market traders and ambulance drivers. Each delivered applause in what speechwriters call a "claptrap". The speech was clearly designed to be punctuated often by applause.

There were other themes too "A race to the top, not a race to the bottom", and "Not under my government". That last one obviously a signal to those who don't see him as prime ministerial.

However, it took some time to get to policy statements. He promised "One million new green jobs by 2030", whatever that means. He made a well-received commitment to freezing energy bills until 2017. He also gave a pledge to build two million homes (though it was a bit of a mystery what he meant by "use the land or lose the land" - is he going to confiscate property?). He called the NHS "the greatest institution in our country", and said we must "raise our sights about what the NHS can achieve as a truly integrated service". He surfed the applause a couple of times when bashing the Conservatives over health policy, and received a mid-speech standing ovation for it. That threw him off his step for a moment.

In a sotto voce section, he spoke about party reform to muted applause. There was much more cheering for his call for votes for 16 and 17-year-olds. Now it was obvious why those young people were behind him.

His style was more conversational and relaxed than usual, though the odd political non-phrase slipped out; "Now hear me on this", "Now let me tell you something"

There was a nice piece of antithesis when referring to David Cameron, "He's strong standing up to the weak, but weak standing up to the strong". His closing phrase was "I will lead a Britain that fights for you".

Overall, it wasn't the set-piece oration of last year. It was more relaxed, with more audience engagement, and at times almost like a stand-up act. There were lots of personal stories, but this time not about his family. To his credit, he received several standing ovations during the speech. My assessment was that though it was it good, it wasn't his best performance, so seven out of ten from me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Media Coach 20th September 2013

Party Conferences; Form and function; A twerk hoax; Where’s my iPad?; Please give it up for; In the TV studio; Don’t gamble on a social media expert; An interview with Robin Speculand; Music from The Good Suns

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Conference Speechwatch 2013 - Nick Clegg, LibDems

Nick Clegg faced a tough task in front of his party today as he tried to establish both his success as a party leader and his achievement as a deputy prime minister. He began with a "joke" about his first day as deputy PM, talking about the "utter chaos" at the start of the coalition.

His first "claptrap"  - 'Fixing the economy" drew muted applause. He began confidently, stressing most of the words in most of his sentences. His first triplet "Feel proud.." was followed by "Liberal Democrats - we are a party of Government now!" Again, the applause was muted.
He used a rising series of phrases, well emphasised to generate a good reaction, to return to a softer tone when talking about income taxed. He surfed the applause, and used the "just one more..." tactic twice.

He made a strong plea for coalition government, asking people "not to give the keys of number ten to a single party". He then turned to comments of a more personal nature, and his upbringing in the seventies watching adversarial politics. This set up the speech's core message - that coalition and collaboration is the way forward. He was earnest and animated, but still for me, came across like a deputy head delivering a speech to the sixth form at the end-of-term assembly.

He was relaxed and confident throughout, with the occasional coughing break during the applause, which grew stronger through the speech, as his voice grew weaker. He made a sustained attack on Labour, with the repeated phrase "..just to score points against us".

In a less than ringing phrase, he stressed his party's commitment to Europe with  'We will be the party of in". The audience looked confused, perhaps just by the tortured grammar. He told a story about his father-in-law being elected mayor of a small Spanish village. It wasn't clear what  the point was.

He also made a strong plea for a "no" vote in the Scottish constitutional referendum, with a promised of a "new settlement for this nation".

There was a cheer for "I'd like to be Prime Minister on my own, thank you very much". He clearly has his party onside, if not over-excited. However, he applause-surfed into a great phrase: "We’re not here to prop up the two party system: we’re here to bring it down."

The closing section of his speech was about his personal circumstances - his parents, his brothers and sisters, his wife, his children. It was sound stuff, if not that inspiring.

His speech finished just before his voice gave out. His closing tricolon, before the obligatory standing ovation, was not very memorable: "Liberal Democrats take that message out to the country. Our mission is anchoring Britain to the centre ground. Our place is in Government again."

Overall - six out of ten. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Media Coach 13th September 2013

An exceptional week; Video in Florida; Radio in London; Nigel Kennedy; A dog not a lion; One two three; A sound bite in time; Change your thinking; An interview with Diane DiResta; Music from Ayd Instone

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Media Coach 6th September 2013

Back to school; The Exceptional Speaker; David Jacobs; David Frost; John McCain plays poker; Think like your audience; Ten tips for writing articles; Twitter rocks!; An interview with Susan Luke; Music from Jennifer Haase

Check out this episode!