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Communicator of the Week: Stephen Harper

18th June 2013


There are many components that make up a great speech. Frequently people get bogged down in trying to create soaring rhetoric or nail a killer soundbite. In doing so they fail to communicate their key message or develop a coherent argument.  This is a mistake made by politicians, business leaders or even people tasked with giving a vote of thanks at an informal dinner.

The one piece of advice I would give to anyone making or writing a speech is to concentrate on plain speaking. In putting together a good speech less is more. Brevity, short words and short sentences not only help you to remain focussed but it also makes the task of listening to the speech far easier. 

As you develop a sound argument better phrases, that will capture the attention of your audience, will naturally develop. Furthermore, they will sound so much more powerful than ones which have been written just to be a soundbite.

This is why I was so pleased to read and then watch the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, deliver his speech to MPs and Peers this week.

It was gloriously simple in its argument, used plain English (and a little French), and developed one theme over the 20 minutes he was speaking rather than trying to deliver a ‘shopping list’ of topics.

The speech focussed on the relationship between Canada and the UK, using historic and contemporary examples to illustrate the prime minister’s argument of how this partnership has been, and continues to be, a force for good in the world.

In closing, Stephen Harper referred to a table which stands in the House of Commons; a gift from Canada when the chamber was rebuilt after being bombed during World War Two:

“I ask that, if you happen to find yourselves looking at that table, think of us in Canada. 

“Perhaps not your most powerful friends, but your truest and most reliable. And know that as we tackle the great challenges of this and future eras, we shall face them together, always, and we will succeed.”

A simple story, plainly told making it all the more powerful because of its toned down brevity. It was a great speech and is why Stephen Harper is my Communicator of the Week.


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