Wise Words

Friday, November 8th, 2013 by Simon Morton

When it comes to great communicators there are a few names that raise little debate and with Remembrance Sunday coming up we thought we’d have a look at one of the select few – Winston Churchill.

Best known as a politician, statesman and inspiring speaker who wrote all his own material, Churchill was also a noted journalist and the recipient of a noble prize for literature.

Churchill is often cited as one of the greatest examples of ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’, but how much of his often (mis)quoted wit and wisdom can be of use to modern businesses? Quite a lot as it turns out….

On writing:

“This report, by its, very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

On speaking:

 “There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.”

 “I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.”

 “Life is fraught with opportunities to keep your mouth shut.”

 On getting your message across:

 “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

 On connecting with your audience:

“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

 “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”

 “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

 On succeeding:

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

 “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

 On presentations (probably):

 “I only believe in statistics that I doctored myself.”

 “When you get a thing the way you want it, leave it alone.”

 “Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”

And prophetically, in response to an amusing (and apocryphal) recent report of a presentation audience rounding on the presenter

 “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”


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