August 18, 2021

Churchill wasn’t a born orator. He worked very hard to transform himself into a great public speaker. He didn’t have a particularly attractive speaking voice. Early in his career, he talked in a monotone, without much change in pitch, pace or volume. He also suffered from a speech impediment – he had difficulty pronouncing the letter “s”, not helpful in a public speaker. But he understood the power that words, both written and spoken, could have on an audience and was determined to master public speaking – and do it well.

At the age of only twenty-two, when he’d only made one public speech, he wrote an unpublished article on the art of speaking. He clearly realised the effect a really good speech could have on its audience.

‘Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king.’

Churchill, The Scaffolding of Rhetoric, his unpublished essay of 1897

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