I like Gordon Brown. I don’t share all his views but trust him almost because he has none of the theatricallity as a performer of his predecessor. However, given that his presentation style is increasingly under media attack, it was interesting to see how he handled his ‘world stage’ opportunity in the USA last week, the opportunity to impress back home.
The concensus of coverage is that he did okay. He was up against the Pope which was unfortunate but this did not stop him getting excellent coverage looking confident and at ease (important) with President Bush and all three of the would-be’s, Clinton, Obama and McCain.
Then came the world leader speech delivered from Boston, home of JFK, endorsed by the surviving brother, an opportunity to benefit by association. The speech as written, and reported, was not quite in the “ask not what your country can do for you..” league but good nevertheless.
What was much less good was his delivery. The coverage on Newsnight started with old black and white footage of Kennedy in full flow, still spine- tingling. Gordon Brown suffered by comparison, fluffing words but worse still reading and looking down for the majority of the time at his script. The act of looking down effectively ‘dismisses’ the audience, and dilutes perception of leadership.
He could so easily have come across more strongly. Years ago I was introduced to an excellent presentation training company, Kingstree, who in a matter of hours could teach you how to deliver a written speech in a manner that meant the audience could not tell you had a script. The result a much more powerful performance.
Time for a company like this to step forward?