Miliband’s attempt at Storytelling falls flat.

Miliband’s attempt at Storytelling falls flat.

I am a firm believer in the power of storytelling. In a political speech a real-world story from the heart or personal experience, when delivered well, can have a huge impact. Storytelling can change the image of a politician from a suited Westminster type to a more relatable individual. A good story in a speech can convince the public that the speaker understands them and their issues, can help them have faith in the proposed policies, and can make the speaker seem more electable.

Ed Miliband today failed to achieve these storytelling aims. He used stories which attempted to be comical, but fell flat. He tried to tell stories from the heart, but they felt made-up. He tried to use them to sell polices, but there were unclear connections.

The stories he told had the ability to develop into a deeper and more compelling idea, but it did not. There was the cleaner from Scotland who didn’t feel that she was being paid enough, but Miliband did not know how she voted in the referendum. There was the woman who worked in a pub who didn’t like politics, Miliband thought this problem needed to be solved. There was the couple he met in the park who told him the country was falling apart. There was the guy called Gareth who thought the system only benefitted a few.

But this was the problem with the speech, there were too many stories. They were all glanced over with a pathetic amount of detail. The stories lacked any sort of emotion or appeal. They felt stale, dull and possibly fictional. These stories of “real” people did not inspire anyone to vote for Labour or accept any of their proposed policies. The stories were a wasted opportunity.

There were some good parts of the speech as well. Miliband supposedly was doing the speech note-free and without auto cue, which is impressive – a skill only mastered by the top orators*. The speech was also not short of policy detail, after years of delivering empty speeches.

But the speech lacked drive, passion and emotion. This was not the speech of an opposition leader before an election.

*Update – it was later revealed that Miliband forgot significant parts of his speech, including the economy and the deficit – a good reminder that note-free is not always the best option


Video and image courtesy of the Labour Party

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