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The speech…. in the social media age

On 31st January, Boris Johnson delivered a short speech to mark the UK leaving the EU. It wasn’t carried by many broadcast channels but the speech has been viewed millions of times on line, demonstrating the continuing rise of new media and the decline of traditional institutions.

Downing Street have issued a transcript so I have reproduced the whole speech at the end of the article. There are some noteworthy features in what is a very professional production:

BREVITY

The whole speech comes in at under four minutes. With communication via the media it is essential to get your message across without losing the audience who can click elsewhere at any time. Delivering short speeches is becoming the new political norm.

STRUCTURE

The speech has a classic chess game structure with an Opening, a Middle and an End. This ensures that nothing is forgotten and everything is in the right place.

OPENING

The opening three lines demonstrate great rapport building. In a matter of seconds he acknowledges those who see Brexit with hope, those who feel anxiety and loss, and those who want to get it over with. This signals that his statement will be all inclusive, a coming together after the discord of the last three years.

MIDDLE

The Middle is for Messages and Memorability, and he manages to achieve both. He states an intention to control immigration, create freeports, protect fishing and do free trade deals as specifics.

The imagery of a breaking dawn with the curtain going up is memorable and positive.

CONCILIATION

He recognises the EU’s strengths even though it has evolved in a direction that no longer suits this country. This sets a positive tone for ongoing relationships with our nearest neighbours.

Later he will return to invite a new era of friendly cooperation between the EU and the UK.

He also claims that Brexit has been confirmed in the polls – not once but twice. Thus appropriating the 2019 election for Brexit, although many other issues were debated during the campaign.

THE NORTH

Boris signals that he no longer accepts that your life chances should depend on where you grew up. It is time to Unite and Level Up.

The message won’t be lost on Northern constituencies who leant their votes to new Conservative MPs this time.

AT HOME

Boris lists his priorities as defeating crime, transforming the NHS, education, technology and infrastructure. A lot of these priorities will be familiar to those of us who worked with him at London’s City Hall from 2008 to 2016.

ABROAD

Boris lists climate change, human rights, female education and free trade as his diplomatic priorities. This is far from a right wing message and signals a return to his more inclusive City Hall style of politics.

The promise to Rediscover muscles we have not used for decades is a very powerful piece of imagery.

CLOSING

The final section of the speech is delivered in shorter lines. This is a very good way to pick up the pace and ensure a strong impact – always leave them wanting more.

I have a rule of thumb that no sentence should run over beyond the end of a line in a platform speech and this final section follows that approach quite strictly.

Of course, the earlier material is longer but it matters less in a conversational piece to camera.

I can help you to design commercial or political speeches just as good as this so contact me for more details.

Very professional – and I recommend watching it for the full effect. Meanwhile here is the official transcript:

 

THE SPEECH – WORD FOR WORD

Tonight we are leaving the European Union

For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come

And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss

And then of course there is a third group – perhaps the biggest – who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end

I understand all those feelings, and our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together now and take us forward

And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning

This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama

And yes it is partly about using these new powers – this recaptured sovereignty – to deliver the changes people voted for

Whether that is by controlling immigration or creating freeports or liberating our fishing industry or doing free trade deals

Or simply making our laws and rules for the benefit of the people of this country

And of course I think that is the right and healthy and democratic thing to do

Because for all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country

And that is a judgment that you, the people, have now confirmed at the polls

Not once but twice

And yet this moment is far bigger than that

It is not just about some legal extrication

It is potentially a moment of real national renewal and change

This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in

This is the moment when we really begin to unite and level up

Defeating crime, transforming our NHS, and with better education, with superb technology

And with the biggest revival of our infrastructure since the Victorians

We will spread hope and opportunity to every part of the UK

And if we can get this right I believe that with every month that goes by we will grow in confidence not just at home but abroad

And in our diplomacy, in our fight against climate change,

In our campaigns for human rights or female education or free trade we will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades

The power of independent thought and action

Not because we want to detract from anything done by our EU friends – of course not

We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation

Between the EU and an energetic Britain.

A Britain that is simultaneously a great European power

And truly global in our range and ambitions

And when I look at this country’s incredible assets

Our scientists, our engineers, our world-leading universities, our armed forces

When I look at the potential of this country waiting to be unleashed

I know that we can turn this opportunity into a stunning success

And whatever the bumps in the road ahead

I know that we will succeed

We have obeyed the people

We have taken back the tools of self-government

Now is the time to use those tools to unleash the full potential of this brilliant country and to make better the lives of everyone in every corner of our United Kingdom.