Yesterday's speech by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the National Press Club was one of the most important in his political career. It was a direct pitch to his colleagues to keep their trust in him. Abbott message made it clear that he intended to stand and fight - for the Liberal Party, for his government and for his own leadership – rather than meekly stepping aside.
However, Abbott has never been the strongest orator and according to most reports, he failed to inspire his intended audience. Queensland Liberal MP Ewan Jones probably summed it up best when he said Abbott's language needed to be “less corporate lunch and more cafe”.
Abbott had clearly poured a lot of work into the speech, but in the end it was more pedestrian than inspiring.
So where did it all go wrong? Here are three problems with Abbott's speaking style.
While there is nothing wrong with using notes for this type of address. Abbott was constantly looking down which then distracted him from delivering his best lines with gravitas.
The video below is a good example. It is a strong part of his speech where he justifies the spending cuts due to the large level of national borrowing. However, just when he is about to drive home his point, he keeps checking for his next line which just makes his delivery stilted.
Generally, Abbott's body language is quite good. He has a neutral stance and appears comfortable behind the lectern. But there was a moment towards to the end of the speech where he implored the audience to join him on a journey and he waved his arms wildly in the air. Unfortunately it looked very contrived and actually detracted from his message.
If you want to be perceived as authentic then your use of language is critical. Unfortunately, Abbott's address constantly referred back to meaningless slogans.
This passage in particular grated: "To create more jobs and more opportunities for families, we simply have to build a stronger economy. A stronger economy is the foundation of a stronger Australia. And if the economy is stronger, everyone’s life is better."
This is just stating the obvious. It should be taken as given that we all want a stronger economy! This is the type of empty rhetoric that makes the voters turn off.