Theresa May: “It is something I will never agree to…” 2 Powerful Public Speaking Lessons from Theresa May

Tug of war between hands painted with UK and European flags

Theresa May demonstrated the power of clarity to the EU following the recent summit in Salzburg. Over the last few months the uncertainty of Brexit has left many of us in the UK dismayed, disillusioned and divided. Every day our television screens are commandeered by politicians and punters telling us what to think about Brexit.

That’s why as a public speaking coach I found Theresa May’s defiant address so refreshing.

What I heard was a woman who has been under immense pressure and scrutiny for over two years make her position on such a frenzied issue abundantly clear.

Whether you like or agree with her stance or not, the fact is the speech was given with such conviction and clarity that we know what to expect from her.

1. It’s all about the message

In our public speaking training courses and executive coaching sessions, the number one thing that most speakers seem to struggle with is the clarity of their message.

One thing that we can all learn from in Theresa May’s Brexit speech is that we need to be precise and transparent with our message. Whether our audience likes or agrees with that message is another matter. What matters most is that they understand it and there is no room for doubt or confusion.

– “That would make a mockery of the referendum we had two years ago.”

 – “Parliament has already – unanimously – rejected this idea.”

 – “It is something I will never agree to – indeed, in my judgement it is something no British Prime Minister would ever agree to.”

 – “As I have already said, that is unacceptable. We will never agree to it. It would mean breaking up our country.”

Her entire speech was filled with statements like these from start to finish. If I shared them all I would essentially be transcribing it.

2. A message is pointless if you don’t mean it

The insights of Dr Albert Mehrabian, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California are relevant here because he explains what happens if our words say one thing and our voice and/or body language say another.

Whilst his research has been misquoted countless times over the past 40 years Theresa May demonstrates the integrity of his findings in her speech.

When the words we speak are incongruent with the way we express them verbally and non-verbally, particularly when expressing our feelings, the words are believed the least. People are far more likely to believe your tone of voice and body language.

If you take a few minutes to watch and listen to Theresa May’s speech you will see that her level of congruence between these elements is impeccable.

She speaks with strength, gravitas and fortitude and leaves us in no doubt that she means every word she says.

Her stance, movements, facial expressions and entire demeanour made for an impassioned speech which was consistent with every word she shared.

Politics aside, if you are presenting soon at work or have a public speech to make then be certain that your message is crystal clear and that you tell it like you mean it.

Am I still uncertain about the impact and consequences of Brexit?

Yes, I am, but I am now very clear on where our Prime Minister stands on the issue today.

Watch the speech here:


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Image: Courtesy of istockphoto.com

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