Don’t be an Edward Everett

Recognise this man?

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, he’s Edward Everett. That’s the man who gave a two hour speech on November 19, 1863. He was followed by a fellow American who gave a mere two and a bit minute speech – otherwise known as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln’s brevity (and without PowerPoint) shows how it is possible to communicate major, thoughtful political points whilst being brief. At the more mundane level of your local leaflets and letters, you don’t have to knock the font size down to 9 points and axe the photos in order to make room for those very important words that are just absolutely necessary to explain a really very important point.

You can keep wording short, succinct and clear whilst also being packed full of meaning and understanding – if you take real care over your words.

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9 Comments

  • Paul Elgood 7th Jan '10 - 10:56am

    Somewhat surprisingly Lincoln was never meant to be the main speaker of the day – which may explain the differences in length. I’d recommend Garry Will’s book Lincoln at Gettysburg to you mark.

  • It would be good if you could post some examples of good leaflets, Mark.

  • Yep. That’s what we need: more sound bites. None of this long, boring political stuff. Large colourful fonts, a few pictures, and not too many words; that’s the way to go.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '10 - 11:35am

    You can sometimes do it by putting the message you want everyone to get in the headlines, while using words which you know most of those who get it won’t read, but a few will appreciate.

    In general, our party’s success in developing new styles of effective letterbox literature has been very positive, but I agree it can sometimes slip into just simplistic soundbites and pictures. I think we should be looking at ways of moving on from that with the long-term aim of generating a more committed core support who appreciate us as a serious party with serious aims and objectives.

  • James Robertson 8th Jan '10 - 6:17pm

    Thought provoking stuff, Mark. I’m one who firmly believes our campaigning should have a strong intellectual rigour to it; I don’t think a message should be diluted or reduced to easy soundbytes (we can leave that to New Labour) but your essential point is very true.

    The key question is how to effectively put out a clear, distinctive and concise message. I suppose it would help if, as in the case of Lincoln, it is the commentators who are particularly receptive!

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