Recently, I have read a number of books on the life of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill is famous for many things, but possibly he is most famous for his inspirational speaking.
Churchill never possessed the clear tones that President Barack Obama does, nor did his possess the easy conversational style of Tony Blair. Churchill actually had a speech impediment that left him with difficulty pronouncing “S’s”. However, what Churchill did possess was a remarkable ability to stress the important phrases and words within his speech. He spoke slowly and carefully and was able to put incredible emotion in to his speeches that made what he was saying believable and honest sounding – unlike most politicians today.
Churchill also memorised his speeches. Most advice given today is you should never memorise a presentation or a speech as it makes you sound robotic, however, Churchill compensated for this by the way he stressed his words and by dictating his speeches to his secretaries. He then practiced incessantly until he got his stress, intonation and naturalness perfect. That is something you must do if you have to memorise your speeches. Practice, practice and practice until you have the stress, tone and flow perfect.
Below is an excerpt transcript of Churchill’s famous “Never Surrender” speech given in 1940. I have highlighted the words that are stressed so that you can see how this famous speech was developed:
We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.
You can also listen to the speech by watching this little video:
Memorising your speech is dangerous if you do not practice enough, but it is possible to deliver a great speech using this method. When memorising your speech remember to stress words, use dramatic pause, and practice in the shower, bathroom and anywhere else you can get a few minutes.