Actors can’t give speeches
I was chatting to Colin Firth last week…. not that Colin Firth, my neighbour Colin Firth.
Incidentally my wife has never been the same since she saw that Colin Firth in the lake scene in Pride and Prejudice.
Even now if you mention Mr. Darcy… her legs turn to jelly.
Anyway, I was explaining to Colin that many actors just can’t give speeches. They can breathe life into lines written by others, they can add drama and passion, but ask them to be themselves and deliver their own material and they deliver the lines with all the verve and panache of a speaking clock.
“…the only example of an actor who did become a great public speaker that I can think of is Ronald Reagan, but he’d already been rolling his own speeches on the lecture circuit for General Electric long before he became Governor of California – with a contract from the company that required him to tour GE plants ten weeks out of the year, often demanding of him fourteen speeches per day”
Professor Max Atkinson
And it was reassuring to know that Colin agreed with me. He may have had a couple of white wines, but he did agree with me.
Thing is, a great speech is a mixture of two things… content and delivery.
The content gives a speech form and meaning and the delivery holds the attention of the audience and makes your words stand out, like a varicose vein in winter.
Content and delivery, the Yin and Yang of a great speech, without both, your speech falls apart.
A great speech needs content and delivery
What an actor brings to a speech is the delivery, so if you want to learn how to deliver a speech watch the actors.
If you really want to see actors deliver a speech, take in a little Shakespeare at your local theatre. There are lots of great speeches in Shakespeare’s plays and stage actors really know how to use their voices.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”
Shakespeare – Henry V
Fortunately I live about half an hour from Stratford-upon-Avon so I’m a regular visitor to the RSC and Swan theatres. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the theatre, take a look at this fantastic video with over 40 examples of great speeches in films.
It’s only a couple of minutes long and don’t blink… or you’ll miis half a dozen.
That is one great video, which I first saw over at JohnZimmer’s Public Speaking site and I hope it reminds you of some of your favourite films and some of the great speeches in them.
Point is, as the video shows, actors can deliver great speeches, but they need great material to produce a great speech.
Time to have your say
So what’s your strong point, content or delivery?
I guess that most bloggers are good with content, but could you deliver your content with power and passion?
Perhaps you have a great voice but can’t write a speech to save your life?
Let me have your thoughts on anything and everything in the comments below.
My thanks and gratitude to: