I came across a speech by Ian Dunt, editor of politics.co.uk, and I came very close to moving on quickly to look for a richer seam to mine. My problem, as far as this blog is concerned, was that he appeared to be speaking so competently that there was nothing on which I needed to comment. And then a tiny issue emerged.
He was delivering a talk on Civil Liberties and Data Linkage at a seminar organised by the International Journal of Social Research Methodology. I haven’t found the precise date of the seminar but the video was posted on line on 16 July 2015 and in the speech he refers to the tenth anniversary of 7/7 having just happened, so we are inside that 9-day window.
He’s shooting from the hip. Good. Everyone can do it, but very few know they can do it, and I have to work with them to show them how easy it is.
He knows he can do it, and is firing on all cylinders. He is eloquent, articulate, coherent and fluent. If this were a trainee of mine the thought through my head would be ‘Job Done’, and not just because of the shooting from the hip. He is also speaking with a great deal of expression, which is partly because he isn’t shackled to a bloody script but also symptomatic of being comfortable in the speaking environment – possessed of the right sort of inner calm. His diction is also excellent, crystal clear without being over-enunciated.
Nothing to see here, move along. And then …
At 3:51 he dries. There had been a nano-hesitation a couple of seconds earlier that hinted at a loss of thread, and now this is a complete dry. He has to go and find his notebook to remember what he was going to say next. Nothing very dramatic happens because his skill in this environment prevents him from mishandling the situation: he simply has a quick look at his notebook and resumes. End of problem.
Except it happens again at 6:45, and at 7:39 he pre-empts yet another occurrence by going and picking up the notebook and keeping it in his hand thereafter.
You may think that this speech might have been an exception caused by some circumstance preventing him from preparing as thoroughly as he would have liked. So did I, so I went back to YouTube to find another gig. Here it is. He delivers that every bit as well – but again he has repeatedly to stop and check what comes next, except this time it’s not a little notebook, but a laptop computer.
Ian Dunt as a speaker has one tiny issue. He doesn’t know about amnesia-proof structures, nor has he learnt the absurdly simple mind-mapping tricks that will never drop you into that sort of quandary. In all other respects he is a very good speaker so this may not bother him, but ironing out the wrinkle would be very simple.