One of the more desultory scenes on our television screens is the typical dabate in Parliament. Rows of empty green leather benches, a few disinterested MPs lounging around, attending from duty not interest. The cut and thrust of lively debate and fierce argument shaping our futures is not evident.
While procedure can be blamed for many of the no-shows, much of the blame lies with the MPs themselves, specifically their lack of any pride in performance. They come fully prepared with their statements, ready for the Speaker’s call to give them their moment in the spotlight, for many the only moment. Then they produce a sheath of papers and start reading – and losing their audience!
As politicians most will have above average communication skill and yet, in extremis, they fall back on reading their words, forgetting that for the listener this makes them boring and almost impossible to listen-to. It might be ok for radio but across the chamber, or a table come to that, the read presentation is a no-no.
Quite often the politician, or presenter, knows their short 2-3 minute statement by heart and the excuse for the notes is as a ‘security blanket’ in case of nerves . In practice they will read them because they are there! Dont take the speech with you. if you need brief aide memoire note, structure your speech (‘rule of three’, for example) with a few signposts to keep you on track.
And if you absolutely must read, look up at the start and end of each sentence and only down in the middle. That way you are not apparently ‘dismissing’ your own communication.