Power of Expression

I am currently half way through a Physics degree and do not consider my self to be thick. However, when it comes to verbal communication and the need to convey myself in an elegant and succinct manner I resort to blathering away and sound like an unknowing baffoon.

For example, if one was to ask:

“How would you describe the present situation in Iraq?”

I might reply

“Fcuking sh*t innit”

Rather than as Jack Straw replied

“There is no doubt that the current situation is very serious and it's the most serious that we have faced. That said, if you look through the histories of post major military conflicts, it is inevitable that there is always quite high levels of insurgency and that was certainly true for example, still true in Afghanistan, it's true in other conflicts, for example in the Balkans, and it was very true after the Second World War. But I don’t want to minimise the problems that we face. They are serious, but they have to be seen in a context in which Saddam held Iraq in a reign of terror, if you like with his sitting on a pressure cooker. The lid of the pressure cooker has come off and some of the tensions and pressures which were there and would have come out in any event have obviously to a degree been directed against the Coalition”

I think my chances in the job market will vastly improve if I address this issue now. But how?

Or would it be better to remain a forthright, to the point ex squaddie?
Join a debating or a political society, or join a political party (OK, OK, perhaps not). Your university must have them. Join them and join in. Read the quality press, listen to the Radio 4 debates.

How about taping Any Questions? As soon as the question is asked, hit the Stop button. Write down your response in outline and don't be scared to adopt a position (that you must be able to defend). After 5 mins, play the responses and see how close you were. Repeat the exercise weekly until you are confident with your position (you don't have to agree with any line proffered by the Great and the Good, but you do have to be true to yourself).

Then repeat the exercise, but record your verbal response. How confident are you? If you aren't confident, keep working at it. Can you think on your feet? Did you answer the question? Did you follow the political line (did you answer the question that you think should have been asked???)! Did you waffle? Do you have verbal tics (umms, errs, like, yeah, well)? If you want a good example of how controlled a public speaker has to be, watch Tony Blair when he doesn't have a brief to hand. He slows down, leaves long pauses whilst he thinks, and uses his hands to distract your attention. IMHO, of course!

I agree that you should not lose sight of the fact that a spade is a spade, and you should not be frightened of straight talk, but the higher up the organisation (any organisation) you want to climb, the better you have to be at using the right language in a confident manner in the right place!

Never lose the opportunity to stand up and say your piece. Join an amateur dramatics society if you are not confident of speaking in public! Join your local church and volunteer to read the lesson! Join a poetry society and read aloud (don't knock it - they usually have some great girls and a bit of Housman knocks them cold...)!


Add the Spectator and the Economist to your weekly reading list.

It helps if you can introduce a bit of (controlled) humour! Cynicism and sarcasm are wonderful tools if used sparingly.


PS. Talking to yourself in large, empty halls (or in empty threads on bulletin boards) helps a lot too....... :lol:
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