Sweat and tears and toil…

An interesting article in the Telegraph by Nicholas Soames, his grandson, discusses the toil Churchill put into his speeches- “Sweat and tears made his name. Contrary to the popular view he was not, as his father Lord Randoplph was,  a natural speaker.”


“People are always surprised that this most articulate of men was so dependant on preparation, even for minor speeches. For him, every speech, however brief  had to be carefully prepared -an agonising process for everyone involved.”

A lot depended, of course, on the persuasive power of some of his speeches, particularly in war time. While the outcome of any pitch is not a matter of life or death, it is  for the participants all consuming. Despite this, it is surprising in practice that pitch teams, who sweat over much else, devote so little of their toil to finding words that resonate.

It is not enough to settle for  the minimum, content that is sensible and rational, ‘ticking  all the boxes’ of the brief. You need words that push the emotional buttons as well. These do not need to have a Churchillian ring to them but you should aim for some phrases, some descriptions, that are memorable, that fire the imagination and capture an attitude that sets you apart.

This may take a little sweat, and possibly some tears, but it will be worth it. As one observer at the time said “Winston has spent the best years of his life composing his impromptu speeches.”

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