Every so often, readers of this blog contact me to suggest that I should look at certain speeches. They do so for a range of reasons. Usually they are interested in what I think of the speaker, but sometimes it’s something else. This is something else.
Ian Josephs has a blog of a very different kind to this. He works to help parents who he claims to have had their children forcibly snatched from them by the UK authorities. When I first looked at this speech, I also looked at other speeches he had made and other people speaking on the same subject. I found that I could choose to cover speeches by a TV Agony Aunt, a Member of Parliament, a columnist on a national broadsheet newspaper and many others besides. Nevertheless I returned to Josephs and the speech to which I had originally been referred.
An interesting feature of Party Political Conferences is the way you sometimes see, sandwiched between the smooth, polished, urbane parliamentarians, a firebrand from out in the real world making a speech that is far more engaging than that of those parliamentarians. There’s a lesson there. Passion can trump huge amounts of technique.
In my training, if I find I am working with one who has natural passion I tamper as little as possible. I would rather produce a flawed diamond than a polished rock.
Ian Josephs has flaws. His microphone technique could use a little work. The structure of his material is a little clunky. I could bore you with more such criticisms, but he won’t bore you. I was intrigued but not completely surprised when he announced that he used to sound off on Speakers’ Corner.
[Speakers' Corner, for overseas readers, is an area in Hyde Park, London, where people simply stand - sometimes on a box - and sound off on a subject of their choice. They are heckled and laughed at and have to develop courage, loud voices and thick skins. When I lived in London I regarded it as possibly the best free entertainment in town.]
Josephs knows how to build the metaphorical bridge from the platform to the audience, and welcomes any audience members who cross it by asking questions while he is in full flow. He works his audience very effectively, but if you get fed up with the endless questions there are those links in the second paragraph above that will take you to others being passionate on the same subject.
I invite you to watch, listen and then act according to your instinct. If you are interested there is a European Parliament Petition on the subject here.