By Paul Barton
I recently saw the film “Darkest Hour, the dramatic story of Winston Churchill in his early days as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II. Churchill was named Prime Minister in the midst of a crisis. Hitler’s military was overrunning most of Europe and was closing in on Great Britain. Most of Britain’s army was pinned down at Dunkirk on the French coast and it appeared they might be destroyed or all taken prisoner at any moment. It seemed nothing could stop Hitler.
The nation, and indeed the world, awaited to see Churchill’s response. Would Britain try to broker a peace or would they fight on against overwhelming odds?
Britain would fight on with dogged determination. As film dramatically depicts, it was the power of Churchill’s public speaking skills that tapped into the sentiment of the populace that made the difference. Churchill’s oratory turned the British policy from appeasement to “we will never surrender.”
For those of us who appreciate great speeches, the movie captures the drama of Churchill’s speeches and it also provides a fascinating behind the scenes look at how he dictated and crafted his powerful speeches.
“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
In the climactic scene, Churchill delivers his famous “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech to the House of Commons of the British Parliment. This was the speech that cemented Britain’s determination to resist — at all costs. As the speech reaches a crescendo, the audience bursts into an emotional applause. One of Churchill’s political foes asks a colleague “What just happened?” The other responded, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
It’s amazing to think of how very different world history might have been without Winston Churchill “mobilizing the English language.” Public speaking can change the world.
Change YOUR World
You might not be called upon to stir a nation to action, but how many opportunities in your career have you had to inspire a project team, to win over a client, or to persuade your boss? Public speaking can change your world.
But if public speaking has been holding you back in your career, why not make 2018 the year you change all that? Why not make being a skilled presenter a New Year’s resolution. It will take work and dedication, but you can become a confident and effective speaker if you have a good coach at your side and if you keep Churchill’s advice in mind: “Never, never, never give up!”
So, here’s to new beginnings, here’s to 2018, and here’s to YOU!