Knowledge and Communication

The Deliberate Speech Style: Primarily a Question of Identification

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It was Barack Obama's oratorical skills and his clarity of vision that brought him fame and prominence in his speech to the Democratic Party in 2004. It was here that he successfully established a link with his audience, which gave people an opportunity to identify with him. For a successful deliberate speech, identification between speaker and audience is essential and is the principal element of its success. The note also deals with other issues such as attaining a balanced style, the effective use of the languages of feeling, meaning and action, symbolism and the benefits of imitation. Winston Churchill, for example, modelled much of his oratory on the style of William Bourke Cockran, an Irish-born U.S. congressman from New York. Some 37 years after meeting Cockran for the first time in 1905, Churchill wrote: "I must record the strong impression which this remarkable man made upon my untutored mind. I have never seen his like, or in some respects his equal." Cockran became a role model not only for Churchill but also for such personalities as Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and William Howard Taft.
Bibliographic citation: Leggett, Brian O'Connor, "The Deliberate Speech Style: Primarily a Question of Identification", IESE, DPON-128-E, 02/2017
Date: 09/02/2017
Author(s): Leggett, Brian O'Connor
Document type: Technical Note
Department: Managing People in Organizations
Languages: English

Learning objective This notes discusses how a speaker links up with his or her audience in a political or professional type of speech and stresses the importance of audience identification.