Tony Blair is a decent orator, but there’s a problem with his recent speeches. In this, my version of Blair’s Rise Up Speech, you can compare his original speech with a version that’s still in his tone of voice – and the substance is for the most part undiluted – but I’ve changed one thing throughout:
Blair’s original speech was all substance, no soundbites. That makes it hard to get a reaction, or to get results.
This is a common weakness in many speeches made by politicians today. It’s all about balance. If your subject is this pervasive, important, and complex … if your speech poses 50 – good – questions… you must construct it carefully, with ‘snippets’. Otherwise, Daily Mail readers miss your point: they do not have the intellect to react the way you’d intended or hoped they would.
Often, it’s not a speech, it’s the headlines about a speech that have most impact and provide greatest momentum. And if you’re reaching out to millions of dissatisfied people in an electorate, then a lack of reaction in the media – seizing on memorable aphorisms – is a big problem. To create those headlines, to master them in advance, you must write ‘snippets’ into your text.
This was a call to action: a speech given at Bloomberg, 17th February. In it, Blair’s command of detail was his undoing. He’s a good orator – always has been – and he knows how to deliver a good speech well. But this amount of substance would work against any speaker: the net effect was, it became easier to attack the man than to work out what he’d said and then tackle his ambitions and point of view.
A quick note, as always: my politics are my affair, but your speeches may be my business. You can decide if the balance was right in Mr. Blair’s draft, or if my version delivers the same content with more effect…