BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Baroness Thatcher, Prime Minister 1979-90

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Baroness Thatcher, Prime Minister 1979-90 - Old prime ministers never die, they merely ... what does happen to them in their twilight years? Enoch Powell famously remarked that all political careers end in failure - a dictum tha

by KHALID AZIZ, chairman of spoken communications specialists, TheAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Old prime ministers never die, they merely ... what does happen to them in their twilight years? Enoch Powell famously remarked that all political careers end in failure - a dictum that Thatcher's enemies were no doubt mouthing frequently during closing months of her reign. More than a decade later Mrs T is politically a shadow of her former self. But does she still cut it as a speaker?

On medical advice, the Baroness has finished with her gruelling but lucrative lecture tours. So the trustees of the Memorial Gates, celebrating the contribution made by 3.5 million Indians, 400,000 Africans and 15,000 Caribbeans during two world wars, were delighted when she agreed to speak at a select fundraising dinner at the Tower of London.

As she rose, we were struck by her frailty but also the enduring sparkle of those coruscating blue eyes. Never a comfortable extempore speaker, Thatcher has always written her speeches long-hand - allegedly, it was staying up till 3am to craft her words that saved her life in the Brighton bombing - and this was no exception. None of the passion was missing.

She spoke with fervour: rather than a token speech for a worthy cause, there followed 15 minutes of researched, argued reasons to dig deep, with rousing talk of sacrifice, debt of gratitude and British pride. It worked: more than pounds 300,000 was raised from just 30 people.

Key moment: The Memorial Gates are the last monument to be consecrated to those in the two world wars.

Key lesson: Even if you read from a script, you can move an audience by delivering your own words with passion.

Silver tongue.

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