Lord Lawson reads what needs to be said.

At the end of April 2014, Lord Lawson of Blaby gave a speech to the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment at the University of Bath, in England. His being the Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lawson’s pronouncements on the subject of climate change usually excite a degree of interest, and this occasion was no exception.

You should not be too alarmed by the indication at the foot of the video that it lasts for nearly an hour and a half. Lawson’s speech ends at 46:30, and the rest is questions – quite robust ones by the way.

At the outset, Lawson asks for his briefcase, which had been placed in the care of someone else. He is duly delivered his script, from which he reads the entire speech. Some might say that he is not making a speech so much as presenting a paper, and I would tend to agree. The process that we witness is in every sense that of a talking head. We would get more out of it if we each were to read that paper to ourselves (till the onset of the questions). That way our minds would process the information at our own pace and rhythm, rather than his, with consequent greater understanding of what is argued. It’s the same phenomenon that makes the film of a book almost invariably inferior to the book.

If you would rather read it yourself, here is a transcript.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I would greatly prefer him not to have used a script. Using paper, even if as skilfully as Lawson, instantly robs your delivery of a substantial part of its persuasiveness.They will also expect me to claim that I could have enabled him to have dispensed with it, though they might not believe it.

One man, who would probably not have believed it last Wednesday, did a course with me on Thursday. He is a senior executive in a well-known British company. On Saturday he sent me an email. I have not sought his permission to identify him so I shall not do so.

What I failed to highlight on Thursday was that on Friday I was hosting an all day workshop with senior members of the xxxxxxxx team.  I had been having kittens for weeks.  Through the time in your course I was mentally whittling down the workshop from 20 slides, to 6, to 2.  That’s what I slept on, and eventually I conducted an 8 hour workshop with no slides and no notes.  I launched the day with a James Bond opening (an icebreaker) followed by a 15 minute speech on why we were there.  A speech with purpose!  What followed was a very lively and interesting workshop. I could not have done it without you.  You switched a light on, and I hope I can keep it alight in future presentations.

He will!

Diana, Princess of Wales. A study in confidence.

HRH Charles Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer were married on 29 July, 1981. It is an easy date for me to remember because my second child was due to be born then at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and we were given a special telephone number to use in order to get a police escort through the huge crowds if necessary. In the event my son announced his arrival just before dawn two days later, and we drove to the hospital through deserted streets.

Nearly eight years later on 18 May, 1989, Princess Diana made a speech for the charity, Turning Point. The subject was what was then called substance abuse.

The princess starts speaking at 1:58. You will want to go straight there, because the introduction by Nick Ross is virtually inaudible and anyway chopped up and garbled in this video (which is a relief because the little we can hear is not as good as a professional should be).

Too much of this speech is a copybook example of ghastly talking-headism and also dreadful over-enunciation. She is reading a script to which she may have applied some editing, but which she almost certainly didn’t write because she is evidently unhappy with much of the phrasing. The script is mainly in written, rather than spoken, English; she is reading it very badly with much of the phrasing and emphases wildly awry; too much of her enunciation sounds as if every – word – came – individually – wrapped; and apparently no one among her armies of advisers even knew how she should manipulate the actual paper. It is disastrous; I feel very sorry for her, and want to give her advisers a good kicking.

Now let us fast-forward to 7 December 1995. The most telling context to that date is that less than two weeks later Buckingham Palace announced that The Queen had urged Charles and Diana to divorce. This time she is at Centrepoint, speaking about homelessness.

What a difference! From the bald opening onwards this is much more impressive.

Yes, it is still scripted, but I reckon she wrote this one personally because she is far more comfortable with the phrasing – so much so that she looks at it only fleetingly. It surges with passionate energy. She surges with passionate energy. Gone is the simpering bird in a gilded cage, we now welcome a new confidence. This is a woman not to be messed with. Look at the strength that emanates even from her eyes: she means what she is saying.

There’s a strong 10-element anaphora (“Young people …”) that begins at 1:00 and periodically permeates the rest of a good and telling speech.

The principle agent working for her here is her inner confidence, twinned with passion. I call it inner confidence, because it is more rational than mere bravado. Unless underpinned with some technical know-how confidence and passion can too easily be foolhardiness. I see areas where she needed a little more technical know-how, but let’s not quibble. This was very good.