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Submitted by

Bob Morrell on 06.06.2024

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Election Special: Why does Public Speaking Matter?

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Speech bubble with Bob & Jeremy's Conflab written in it

As we enter a campaign for a major election, in a year of elections all over the world, the importance of public speaking becomes essential. It requires understanding your audience, knowing when to pause, when to be humorous, and most importantly, when to make your voice heard.

If you think about politicians who are currently in the public eye, it is probably a fair judgment, that they have come through their careers without truly developing compelling speaking skills. In a time of soundbites, quick headlines and the requirement to stick out policies into the media to see which ones ‘play well’ for politicians, you could argue that the standard of our public debate has never been so low. Yet these skills, or lack of them, still have the ability to influence our voting intentions. 

From wedding toasts to eulogies, being able to communicate effectively can make a lasting impression.  The current Prime Minister, the would-be, Keir Starmer, Nigel Farage, and a plethora of speakers from less mainstream parties all illustrate how preparation and audience analysis are critical to delivering a message that resonates. Sadly their ability to deliver with pathos, logic, and to come across as ethical humans seems beyond many of them. 

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It isn’t that complex – most people don’t rehearse, most people don’t consider their audience, and most don’t have the confidence to tell stories to illustrate their points. Many people who can’t tell jokes still try to, even when they know it is a disastrous experience. There was a time when public speaking was essential because it would be reported in full. Now we know that a few words is all that will be reported, and an assumption is made that the people are too stupid to grasp anything beyond a few words. This is totally patronising and devalues the importance of public debate and scrutiny. Winston Churchill would never have treated his public so shabbily. Some years ago I asked the MP William Hague about speech making and he made clear that he would have preferred to operate in the Victorian or Georgian eras, where public speaking was literally all you had, so it had to be good. By mastering the art of public speaking, one can leave a lasting legacy and influence the world one speech at a time.

Tune in to our Bob & Jeremy’s Conflab podcast episode, Election Special: Why Does Public Speaking Matter? How Do You Engage & Influence Your Audience? Click here to listen: https://pod.fo/e/241074