The Great Speech Writing, Great Speech Awards, 2016

We’ve written hundreds and listened to many more. Speeches dominated the agenda. Some were poignant, others perfect. Some “tremendous”, others terrifying.  Some bombastic, others barbed.  After much deliberation at HQ we’re delighted to announce the recipients of the following ‘Great Speech Awards’ for outstanding contributions to public speaking in the extraordinary year that was 2016.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Barack Obama

What can be said that hasn’t been said already? Quite simply the most accomplished speaker to hold office in living memory. An eight-year Presidential master class in the art of rhetoric, and we would argue that he peaked before he’d even been elected.

Best Cover Version – Melania Trump

Rising star Mel T  completely made it her own. A fresh, modern, and frankly superb cover of Michelle Obama’s wisdom on the campaign trail in 2008. Only by thanking her Democratic husband Barack could her plagiarism have been more brazen.

Best Catch Phrase – Claudio Ranieri

‘Dilly ding, dilly dong’. It might seem like one for the bedroom (particularly one inhabited by Sid James or Kenneth Williams), but Ranieri’s refreshingly old-school rallying cry was typical of the unorthodox and charming manager masterminding Leicester’s success. Previously beloved by benign Governesses and Edwardian nannies, it’s a phrase that galvanised an unlikely  group of millionaire, tattooed footballers. We’ve used it to great effect in our office whenever Seb arrives looking a little tired and emotional.

Best Acceptance Speech – Leonardo Di Caprio

Not the typical self-congratulatory Oscar-winning stuff that we’ve criticised in blog posts past. Di Caprio leapt through his thank yous to focus on climate change.  It may sound pompous, but he managed it without a whiff of self-importance. Brief, relevant, and delivered to perfection.

Most Improved Speaker – Andy Murray

Murray has won this so many times in recent years that he should probably keep the trophy. His tennis has provided a very public platform for his ever-more articulate and understated public speaking style.  A man whose comments about the English football team once had the blue rinses of the Home Counties spitting in indignation, his acceptance speech for his Third Sports Personality of the Year Award had them rolling in the aisles. Ace! (Second place Jeremy Corbyn. Seriously, he has improved.)

Best Speech of 2016 – Michelle Obama (New Hampshire)

Whatever your opinion of President-elect Trump, this damning indictment from the First Lady is this year’s most powerful and empowering speech. Truly magnificent. How she will be missed.  New Hampshire primaries 2020 anyone …?

Most Moving Speech – Major Tim Peake CMG

Gravitas at zero gravity. Clarity at 17000 mph.

Least Moving Speech – Tannoy Operator at Victoria Station

“Your Southern Rail train to…”

Best Speech Given In Absentia – Bob Dylan

In true rock and roll style, Dylan opted not to receive his Nobel Prize in person. But his speech  – delivered by the United States Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji – was gracious, reflective, and pulled off the not inconsiderable challenge of drawing comparisons to Shakespeare without coming off like a prat. Hats off to you, Sir!

Careful What you Say Award – Boris Johnson

An orator of such magnetism and impact he managed to convince the country to vote for something neither it, nor he, wanted. Further awards sure to follow in 2017.

The Filibuster Award for Avoiding the Question – Theresa May PM

So many speeches, so many sound bites, so many words signifying very little.  Brexit means? To misquote a rather more equivocal PM, never before has so much been said to so many … revealing *$%& all.

Mentioned in Dispatches

Donald Trump talked (and tweeted) his way into the Oval office, but who could forget Hillary Clinton’s first genuinely emotional speech of the campaign?  Eloquent, thoughtful, empathetic and appealing.  And delivered rather too many hours after the vote.  Or David Cameron’s surprisingly upbeat farewell to office early one midsummer morning?  Then there was Gisela Stewart’s ability to remain measured and eloquent during the televised Brexit debate when those around her were losing all control.  And how about Len Goodman’s retirement speech on Strictly?  OK, maybe not.  But it says something that more of us watched it live in the UK than any other speech mentioned above.

For help writing, editing or discussing your own speech for 2017, feel free to contact us any time over the holiday season.