The anatomy of a good speech

Whether you think David Cameron is Blair MK II or the saviour-in-waiting of UK plc, the BBC’s analysis of his speeches down the years here and here makes very interesting reading. Top of the list of most-used words is ‘people’, which Emphasis has always cited as one of the most powerful in the English language.

The UK’s Conservative Party (of whom Cameron is leader) is currently riding high in the polls with a nine point lead over Labour, and many put this down at least partly to a well-orchestrated communications policy. This is unsurprising given that Cameron is the former head of corporate affairs at a large media company. But credit must also go to the speechwriters on the Tory campaign team, who clearly know how to turn a phrase or two to their leader’s advantage.

The analysis reveals how they seem to have chosen words very carefully to support a deliberate strategy. For example, Gordon Brown said in his speech last week that this was ‘no time for novices’, in a sideways swipe at his opponent’s lack of experience. So Cameron this week gave Margaret Thatcher a name-check purely to give his speech weight, apparently.

The BBC uses ‘word clouds‘ to show how the latest conference speeches from the leaders of all three main UK political parties compare. It’s all fascinating stuff.

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