Good news for speechwriters in Canada. There’s at least one politician there in need of your services. I say that because I just read the Speech From the Throne given by Herménégilde Chiasson, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick this past November.
It clocks in at about 54 minutes that is, by my reckoning, about 30 minutes too long. Way too much fluff and not enough “get-to-the-business-at-hand.” In fact, I had a bit of trouble finding what the “get-to-the-business-at-hand” stuff was.
Consider the opening two pages which talks about the people who have died in the past year including a New Brunswick man who was remembered as a “strong advocate” of the potato industry and a young Vancouver Canucks defensive man. Not to take away from the recognition or the memory of those who died, but I might suggest the sentiments are misplaced at the beginning here.
(As an aside, if you have to do perfunctory comments about who died, who got married, or who’s serving overseas, let someone else do it in a separate talk. That way you’re not diluting your own message. Yes, it is important to have a message and stick with it!)
Placing this material at the beginning weakens the plot here. In fact, there is no plot which is a real problem for the audience. As anyone who has followed my postings here before know, I’m a strong advocate for making your speech audience centric. That is, one the audience can follow and take meaning from. If they can’t follow the talk, if they don’t know where you’re going, they’ll have a difficult time putting meaning to the talk. Unfortunately, that’s what happened here.
I kept reading this talk waiting for a moment when the speaker would say something like: What I’d like to talk about today is ….” Yes, it’s a bit cliché but oh so refreshing compared to what we have which is a mish-mash of statements on a variety of topics.
Winston Churchill once implored a server to “Take away that pudding – it has no theme.” That’s the way this speech is. No theme. No over-arching point. No structure. And did I mention it was too long? Take it away and bring it back when it’s fully developed into a concise, rhetorical device.