BRAIN FOOD: Speaking Out - Theresa May MP, Chairman, Conservative Party

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking Out - Theresa May MP, Chairman, Conservative Party - I closed my eyes and let my mind wander back 30 years. Could this have been Mrs Thatcher before Gordon Rees turned her from a thoughtful but shrill speaker into one of power and passion? It could! Theresa May has resisted attempts to trivialise her as chairman of the Tory party, but despite this, she is still noted more for her footwear than her politics.

by Khalid Aziz, chairman of spoken communications specialist, TheAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I closed my eyes and let my mind wander back 30 years. Could this have been Mrs Thatcher before Gordon Rees turned her from a thoughtful but shrill speaker into one of power and passion? It could! Theresa May has resisted attempts to trivialise her as chairman of the Tory party, but despite this, she is still noted more for her footwear than her politics.

Giving the Hansard Society annual lecture on 'Reconnecting Parliament with the People', she had interesting things to say - among them her desire to scrap the whip system.

She read her speech well, although the pauses and pacing weren't quite right. But her voice; oh dear! As she struggled to conquer her nerves, her voice became increasingly strangulated and high-pitched, limiting her dynamic range - a bit wearing for the audience of a 32-minute lecture.

Still, the structure was there and her arguments were persuasive. She feels we should borrow from the US system and have parliamentary scrutiny of senior appointments to quangos and other public bodies rather than leave it to the prime minister and his colleagues. She had some catchy lines too. 'Voters do not want yah-boo politics, they want can-do politics.' But that voice will need fixing if she is to be taken really seriously. The chairman didn't help, saying how much he admired her shoes!

Key moment: The revelation that in the last general election, 61% of those aged 18 to 24 did not vote.

Key lesson: You must sort out the fundamentals of performance, even if you have persuasive, well-thought-out content.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?: Silver tongue.

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