Making your case, with YouTube

Utilise the power of oratory, with Monty Python, A Few Good Men and Laurence Olivier's Henry V.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

This week saw President Obama appear before the US Senate to try and persuade a sceptical audience to support his controversial healthcare plan. Now we can’t all have the oratorical prowess of the world’s most powerful man, but there’s many a time in the office that we need to bring people round to our professional point of view. Here are three key points to remember:

Engage your audience:
The best-crafted message may fall on deaf ears if you can’t connect with your audience. In this clip from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, those at the back of the crowd get the wrong end of the stick as they listen to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Blessed are the cheese-makers? What’s so special about the cheese-makers?’

Choose your moment:
Timing is everything. We’re all for impassioned defences of one’s professional ethos, but it’s probably a good idea not to do it when it could be personally incriminating. Unfortunately that’s the mistake Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessop makes in A Few Good Men – thanks to the goading of Lt Kaffee, he accidentally admits a criminal offence in a court of law. Not recommended.

Appeal to self-interest:
Everyone wants to leave their mark – whether that be in the workplace, or in the broader sweep of history. Hence the everlasting brilliance of the St.Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V, when the king (played here by Larry Olivier in all his Technicolor glory) rouses his men before the Battle of Agincourt by telling them that the exploits of ‘we few, we happy few, we band of brothers’ will be remembered ‘from this day to the ending of the world’. He’d have made a great CEO.


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Making your case, with YouTube

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