The Prime Minister’s Speech

Could the Prime Minister’s poll woes be linked to the words she uses? Sydney Morning Herald national reporter Jacqueline Maley has written an op-ed in the daily today suggesting the stiffness with which Prime Minister Julie Gillard delivers her scripted speeches might help explain why her messages don’t seem to cut through in the electorate.

While Julia Gillard is a lively speaker when speaking off-the-cuff, writes Maley, it’s a different story when she’s reading a scripted message:

Gillard obfuscates when she should illuminate, uses many words when a few would do, and confuses messages so badly that voters would be forgiven for thinking she’s deliberately trying to mess with their heads. She ends sentences with prepositions (“I explained that we had a High Court case that we were working through our response to,” she told journalists last week), speaks in the passive voice and uses multiple subjunctive [sic] clauses, which tend to bloat her speech. She has a habit of doubling her adverbs - using two when one, or none, would do.

For more on the art of political speech-making, watch or listen to this video/podcast of our recent event, ‘Unaccustomed as I am…’, where speakers read from some of their favourite speeches. We’ll publish the video/podcast of last night’s Don Watson event shortly, and further afield, former PM Paul Keating will visit the Wheeler Centre to promote the publication of a collection of his post-prime ministerial speeches, Afterwords.

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