Know your audience
Impromptu speaking tactics (Part 1)
David Cameron has been lauded for his ability to win over voters and project a personality through his speaking in a way that Gordon Brown could not. But how was this reflected in his first speech as Prime Minister on the 11th May 2010?
As the content of Cameron’s speech is difficult to judge without any form of bias (we all have different views on the outcome of the general election), lets take a look at his technique.
Cameron’s speech on the 11th May was an opportunity to use his body and voice to further illustrate the ‘personal touch’ that helped him to win the election over Gordon Brown and set the tone for the next four or five years of his reign. In my opinion, it was an opportunity missed.
Hands – Cameron clearly anchors his hands together throughout the speech. This is a great technique for the nervous speaker or a speaker who has a habit of fidgeting. Clasping your hands together in this way avoids them distracting your audience from your face and voice and avoids appearing nervous.
However, Cameron is an experienced speaker and so I would have liked to have seen him make greater use of his hands and arms to open himself up to his audience and involve them more. The most extravagant hand gesture we see in this speech is a movement of the left hand as Cameron makes key points.
By opening up both hands, and using slightly wider gestures, Cameron could have appeared more personable and opened himself up to his audience more. This isn’t to say I recommend that he should be flailing his arms widely, just expanding his gestures slightly to avoid his hands being concealed by the microphone in front of him.
Tone – Whilst on the campaign trail, we saw some inspiring videos of Cameron speaking to groups and varying the tone of his voice at key points to hammer home important and emotion-stirring points. This doesn’t happen so much in this speech and it is slightly weaker for it.
A strong, tone of voice even on one single point at the end of this speech could have left the media audience with an inspirational message to project in news bulletins across the world for the coming days.
Of course, after a long month of campaigning, negotiating and meeting the Queen, we cannot be too harsh on David Cameron, especially as his speech was very impromptu and probably prepared on his car journey from the palace!
It will be interesting to see how his speaking style develops and varies during the good and bad times to come over the next few years.