The BBC has a simple definition of news: 'That which is significant or interesting or a combination of the two.' Few could reject the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as being insignificant, but 'interesting?' - its predecessor, GATT, was nicknamed the General Agreement for Talk and Talk. So could ex-New Zealand PM Mike Moore bring it to life?
No. He started well, grabbing his audience with a quip about US recession. 'I have a good track record on recession - I've predicted 10 of the last four of them!' But then it was back to the lectern, trundling through a script that seemed unrehearsed.
A pity, as Moore's chit was compelling - the next WTO gathering, he said, had to succeed in helping the poorest countries. He argued that marginalisation, not globalisation, was the real threat; free trade was a panacea that had, for example, catapulted Singapore beyond the whole of the illiberal African continent. He had stunning stats too. 'If global trade truly came, the benefit would be like adding two Chinas to the world economy.'
But these goodies were buried. There were no pauses for emphasis, the stresses were wrong and, curiously, the longer Moore talked, the more he adopted a Kiwi whine that makes Australians sound cultured. I was reminded of a client of mine bemoaning his dreadful, corporate affairs-written script. In his darkest Black Country accent he said: 'You can't polish a turd.' Moore confirmed this.
Key moment: Thirty of the poorest WTO member countries can't afford a mission in Geneva.
Key lesson: If you must read a speech, rehearse it and mark the pauses.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth?
Foot in mouth