This month’s TV debates and hustings for leadership of the Conservative party – even if you positively loathe politics – provided a handy reminder of what works, and doesn’t, when giving speeches, talks and presentations.  

What words and techniques caught your attention? 

Without going into the details, here are my 5 practical takeaways:

  1. Particular words have weight and impact, and they may have a positive or negative sway (‘turbo charge’, ‘risks’ and ‘failed’ caught my ear).
  2. Body language matters. Hand gestures can add weight and impact, but don’t over-do them or look lacklustre.
  3. Analogies can help explain things. May’s deal with the EU was described as like ‘serving up cold porridge’ again and again (a nice touch); and an extension to Article 50 as like a bit of ‘extra time’ in soccer (easy for people to understand).
  4. Get the audience’s buy-in by showing you understand what they are talking about – use case studies or draw on your experience (‘I’ve been there, done that’).  Also, address them by their names, but don’t get them wrong!
  5. Pace, pause and projection – Draw on these three Ps to your voice.  They can win you audience attention, and add weight and conviction to your message.

Who got your vote for impact? Forget their views, what did you think of their delivery?

Share your ideas with me at – and for more ideas, take a look at my speechwriting webpage:

Robert Bullard

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