Tim Montgomerie: stilted and unhappy

On 20 October, 2105, the Danube Institute hosted a lecture by Tim Montgomerie entitled The Moral Power of the Right, which he subtitled Ten Conservative Commandments.

That’s a weak opening, principally because it’s a weak joke, weakly delivered.  Even brilliantly delivered it would fail because he has brought up the name of Moses before the audience has been introduced to the Ten Commandments subtitle; so the joke makes no sense (unless someone mentioned the Ten Commandments earlier).

He seems unhappy.  He never stops fidgeting and the speaking is stilted, even when he’s not reading his bloody script (why will they do that?). The occasional flashes of attempted humour seem not to be working – I can’t hear any laughter, and shots of the audience show them in less than party mood.  If I were in his shoes, I think I would drop attempts at humour on this occasion

His rather laboured speaking could be because his audience do not have English as a first language, but if he thinks that is a problem he should use shorter, punchier sentences and shorter punchier words and deliver them naturally rather than speaking as if to halfwits. Don’t over-enunciate everything and then use words like rhetorical.

20:07 – errm… Oh dear! Probably ill-advised.

This speech could be good.  The ten commandments idea is a reasonably promising one, but it comes across as flat-footed. As an overview, Montgomerie seems to be making two mistakes, both of which are widespread.

  • Speaking is not an extension of writing – the two are completely different genres and preparation of material should be approached in completely different ways.
  • Standing and speaking to an audience is not essentially different from speaking to a friend across a table. It feels different because you are on your feet and it is a monologue, but the delivery mindset should be virtually the same. (I could write several pages on this, but I’ll spare you.)

I’ve read Montgomerie, and he writes well. Now he needs to learn how to prepare a speech in a way that sounds natural when spoken and does not require a script. I’ve seen him interviewed, and he has good and relaxed delivery with occasional throw-away humour. Now he needs to dare to translate that into the same sort of easygoing delivery from the speaking platform.

Meanwhile he will continue to be unhappy.

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