Sunday, March 22, 2009

Who is the most boring public speaker in the UK?

How would you like to pick up your morning newspaper and find that you just had been named the most boring public speaker in the UK? How about being named up in the top five?

On March 11 Cow LLP put out a press release for the text-to speech firm Spinvox titled: “Brits - Bored by Brown and Becks.”

Based on the percentages responding in a poll of a thousand people done in January 2009, they listed the top five worst public speakers as being:

Gordon Brown (20%), the Prime Minister
David Beckham (14%), the football star
Kate Winslet (11%), the movie actress
Chris Moyles (11%), the radio announcer
Prince Charles (7%), the Prince of Wales

The Press Association (analogous to the Associated Press, or AP in the US) promptly snipped it down to sound bit size, and it appeared as a “news” article in the Daily Star and elsewhere. Anna Raccoon quipped that Brown is the new beige. Now, all this really is quite silly. None of these personalities actually is a very boring public speaker. All of them are just in the public eye and therefore “top of mind.” Perhaps Cow LLP should change their name to Bull.

For example, as was noted by Ian Whitworth, Gordon Brown gave an excellent 34-minute speech to a joint session of the US Congress. You can also view a 2 minute excerpt from about the 13:30 mark. He does sometimes slip up though, as when he answers a question by talking about having saved the world rather than the banks.

If you want to see a truly boring speaker, have a look at this 1969 vintage Monty Python clip of John Cleese putting the radio audience to sleep with his reading of the six o clock BBC news. He does a wonderful job of following his training: “Deep breaths, and try not to think about what you’re saying.”

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