Standing up for democracy

There is no doubt that Boris Johnson is a man in continual search of an even bigger platform and last night at Wembley was certainly that. A stage more used to the likes of Black Sabbath and Beyonce witnessed the rather grandly self-styled BBC ‘Great Debate’.

Regardless of personal politics, regardless of ‘Brexit’ or ‘Bremain’, regardless of opinion on the man himself there is no doubt that he knows his way around a speech and has all the skills to whip up a frenzy of enthusiasm.

The slow lion-like approach to the lectern.  The cadences and modulation in the voice, the changes in pace and pitch at moments of high passion, slowly building to a crescendo, riding the waves of enthusiasm from the crowd and pausing just at the right moment before his zinger of an ending which had them on their feet cheering, whistling and believing in a higher cause.

He spoke to us using a classic storytelling technique – sparklines – contrasting what is with what could be (famously used by Dr Martin Luther King in his most well-known speech) with lines like “those who speak of nothing but fear and we who offer hope” and deploying antithesis with spectacular efficacy: ‘fear’ and ‘hope’; ‘rubbish’ and ‘believe’; ‘can’t’ and ‘can’.

“If we stand up for democracy” being a very subliminal command to the suggestible to rise up out of their seats at the climax of the speech coming but a few seconds before the virtuoso delivery of “I believe (pause) that this Thursday (pause) could be our country’s (pause) independence day.”

But Boris had best watch out for another Tory who has charm, charisma and oratory at her fingertips – one Ruth Davidson.

Luan de Burgh

June 2016

Luan de Burgh is a speaker, writer and founder of The de Burgh Group – a specialist business communication training provider dedicated to helping people perform at their highest potential.