Final curtain on the hustings – what can public speakers learn from our next PM?

The two candidates for Number 10 arguably gave the most practiced and polished performance of the process in London this week, having had 12 events across seven weeks to prepare. So how did they do when it came to their performances and what can you learn from them?

Language features: If polls are to be believed, the next Prime Minister of our country, Liz Truss harnessed key presentation techniques such as rhyming (“aspiration nation”) and alliteration (“war in Ukraine perpetrated by Putin”). She also deployed the power of three principle when describing Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan as “anti-car, anti-business and anti-opportunity.” These are tried and true techniques which are well-used to make presentations and speeches stick in people’s minds.

“I think”: Two words that immediately water down and detract from your message, and which were uttered too many times by Truss. As the presumptive next head of government, it would enhance her credibility and strengthen her messages to be assertive with her points and leave out the “I think.”

Direct answers: Politicians aren’t exactly famed for being direct – sometimes for good reason, others no, but for several key answers, Liz responded directly and quickly – where possible, this is the approach you should take in answering questions to signal authority and control.

Strong key messages: However, there were occasions when Truss’ answers were too long and, after answering, you were unsure exactly what the key takeaway was. It is vital that you distil messaging for every topic into a clear point, and that once you have made this point, and backed it up with evidence, you finish your answer and avoid unnecessary waffle.

Strong positive energy: If you watched the hustings, or if you have seen any stills, you, like the London audience, will feel energised and excited about Rishi Sunak’s plan for the country and confident in his ability to deliver. Largely, this is down to the incredible energy that Rishi brought to his performance – even after so many similar events and a gruelling campaign schedule. Emotions are so important in communication, people are less likely to remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. You must bring a strong positive energy to every presentation and media performance, even when an interviewer may be trying to drag you to the negative.

The power of a pause: Strong energy is important, but pauses can be very effective at creating emphasis, keeping your audience on the edge of their seat, and establishing credibility. This is something Sunak can improve on; he dove head first into every answer, which can come across as too polished and rehearsed and doesn’t create anticipation with the audience.

Pre-prepared examples: Rishi employed a key tactic that everyone should follow, which is having succinct, effective examples to use throughout his performance. Whether it was comparing the countries debt to a mortgage or explaining that stop and search would help with crime in London, these short examples are easy to understand, bring colour to his answers and bring the audience along with him.

Talking too quickly: Occasionally, when speaking about something he knew well, Sunak spoke incredibly quickly. Its always better to take it slow, especially when covering complicated topics.

If you our any of your team want support with communicating and presenting your messages more effectively, get in touch with us about how we can help.

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