A bit of self-indulgence to lighten the Boxing Day thru’ New Years dog days – The Gay Divorce…(‘Divorcée’, if you prefer) – gave me my line of the season: Ginger to Fred after he’s blocked her in with his little MG, “Would you mind moving your car…or don’t you want it anymore?”

Cracking little movie, dating from the golden era when America’s best writers were all heading west to join the great Hollywood gold rush, and the script really reflects it. Turns out it was Fred’s second with Ginger, and one he agreed to reluctantly, both because he was set on becoming a solo dancer rather than one of a duo, and because he thought Rogers wasn’t classy enough for the role. Hard to believe when you see them dance together: a short-lived artform at its peak; we’ll never see its like again.

Out of nowhere, I was suddenly pinned in my chair by a rendition of ‘Wunderbar!’, a song I knew only from its appearance in Kenny Everett’s World’s Worst Records from the late ’70s. A song which, in its originalstill has the power to reduce strong men to quivering wrecks….

Here’s to a wunderbar 2022, everyone!

Crispness, clarity, cut-through

Andrew Rawnsley recently, on the importance of clarity in political communication:  “Blair was a maestro at distilling his mission into compelling slogans. “Education, education, education” and “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” left no one in doubt about what he was about. This is a non-trivial point. If you haven’t got the ideas and you can’t express them with a crispness and clarity that will cut through [italics mine] to voters, then you have no business being in modern politics.”

This is indeed a non-trivial point, and one that all communicators – in or outside politics – would do well to ponder.

“It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it…”

Interesting point made by Matthew Flinders, a politics professor at the University of Sheffield, in the wake of Boris Johnson’s disastrous CBI ‘Peppa Pig’ riff:

“He’s absolutely fantastic in terms of his performative skills and his ability to work a crowd. He uses speeches not to convey information but as a tool of entertainment, to ingratiate himself and develop himself as a character.”

I thought it a very telling illustration of the difference between any communication’s supposed/purported objective and its true goal, often all but totally divorced from the notional.  It flags up for any communicator the crucial importance of being crystal clear not about what you’re trying to say, but what you’re trying to achieve.

Tweet tweet

Browsing around the whys & wherefores of social media t’other day, I stumbled across this:

Love that final sentence (in brackets). Simple, clear, immediate – and with a visual ‘tag’ – the paragraph itself – that means no-one who encounters it will ever again lack for a pretty good rule-of-thumb feel for how long a tweet can be.

Excellent communication! Ginger beers all round.

I say I say I say

Getting well into my second rewatch of The West Wing, and came across a presidential soliloquy that echoes something I came across recently: Alexander Pope stressing the importance of words’ sounds, and the importance of having them tally with – more, reinforce – their meaning:

BARTLET: Words, when spoken out loud for the sake of performance, are music. They have rhythm, and pitch, and timbre, and volume. These are the properties of music, and music has the ability to find us and move us, and lift us up in ways that literal meanings can’t. Do you see?
ABBEY: You are an oratorical snob.
BARTLET: Yes, I am. And God loves me for it.

As do we all, Mr President, as do we all.

“That resonates…”

Further to recent ponderings over the continued centrality of engagement in the communications process, I stumbled across this clipping from a few years back, singing a very similar song…

“Emotional resonance”. How many companies – how many professional communicators – really understand it, or grasp its importance?