Tag Archives: Churchill

Are there any Churchills out there?

An article in the Daily Mail, marking the anniversary of Churchill’s “never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many  to so few ” speech, posed the question: could any modern politician have made this speech? Or one like it.


The answer is no. Not because there is not in Britain some smouldering orator waiting to ignite but because there is no situaton so desparate or despairing that calls for such a speech. Great orators greatest performances have been in response to a passionately held need to ‘bring a nation with them’, to change their views.

In the second half of the 20th century the few recognised orators include Martin Luther King- “I had a dream”, J.F.Kennedy- “think not what your country can do for you..” ( imitated by Cameron) and, less happily, Enoch Powell and his infamous “rivers of blood”. This century Obama- “Yes We Can” is the only English speaker seen as a true orator. 


The answer is also no because of the medium. Orators need platforms and audiences not the conversational approach of television. David Cameron’s celebrated ‘no notes’ platform speech at the Blackpool conference, whilst not great oratory, did win him the leadership. Churchill’s platform was, of course radio. Not as we know it today but radio as the nation’s lifeline with a captive and spellbound audience hanging on his every word.

Pitch leaders must demonstrate leadership!

The subject of leadership has been in the news a lot recently.

A few weeks ago we heard  from Chelsea manager Ancelotti about “a word in  Italy: trascinatore”. It means the player that pulls the group together. John Terry is a trascinatore at Chelsea, as is Drogba and as is Capello for England.

Churchill was a trascinatore! In his just published biography, Churchill As Warlord, Max Hastings says, “the Dunkirk spirit was not spontaneous.  It was created by the rhetoric and bearing of one man, displaying powers that will define political leadership for the rest of time”.

New boys on the block like Obama and Cameron have a long way to go.

In the world of pitching the role of ‘pitch leader’ is often too readily assigned. It goes to the person who is most experienced, who knows the client,  who is most senior or, sometimes, most available. Not, as it should, to he or she is who is demonstrably a leader, a trascinatore.

In practice, most groups will not have the luxury of  ‘leadership’ choice. They go with the people they have, perhaps competent managers but not natural leaders.  However, it is through practice that leadership can be demonstrated -for at least the duration of  the pitch!

How?  The clues are supplied by Churchill, “the rhetoric and the bearing”.

 Whilst no one can emulate the great man, through frequent rehearsal, of both words and manner, they can move from competent manager to dynamic, inspiring leader. As Olivia Mitchell of www.speakingaboutpresenting.com says “the difference between good and great is rehearsal”.

And a leader ‘being great’ will raise perception, and evaluation, of the entire pitch.