Brits: They don’t speak to the room, but to the world
February 18, 2016
When you read a British speech online, try to find out where it was delivered, and to whom. It's not easy, because Brits don't care.
British speeches are among the best that I read in the course of my global rhetorical travels. But one thing annoys me about the way they’re reported on: The British websites on which they appear and the British press in which they’re reported rarely note the venue at which the speech was delivered or describe the audience that attended it. Usually, even the city is left unidentified.
I think this lack of context says something about the way the British see speeches—as declarations to the world, rather than communications to a roomful. In North America, we’re compelled to try to do both with our speeches. And if we err, it’s on the side of the captive audience.
I’m not prepared to jeopardize our special relationship by deciding which approach is better, but I will say: Come on, Brits. If only for the sake of the poor old editor of Vital Speeches, tell us where the damned speech was delivered. —DM