If you haven’t seen this Arnie movie I recommend it right now. A seven-minute-long piece to camera, which shows just what can be done with minimum tech and minimum production. At a time when corporate and organisational leaders are looking for ways to connect with their teams via videos or zoom town hall meetings, there are few great lessons we can grab from this.
Ok, I know he is a senior politician and an actor – so he knows a thing or two. That is why of course, it is a masterpiece.
Here is my list of the transferable highlights:
- Start with a personal story. If you can include emotion it will make it memorable.
- Expand the anecdote into the public narrative formula: the story of me, the story of us, the story of now (or our challenge for the future). If you are speech writing it is worth becoming au fait with the public narrative style. It is super simple and effective.
- Use short sentences. There is barely one example of a sentence more than 16 words in this video.
- There is absolutely no jargon or difficult language in this. The one German phrase is clearly explained.
- Paint a picture with your words. (For example ‘pound it with a hammer, heat it in the fire’ – 5 mins, 20 seconds into the video).
- Use a prop. Conan’s sword (explained here) was a prop that reminded the audience of the politician’s film career but also served as a clever and powerful metaphor.
- Understand, a good speech is all about emotion.
- Be prepared to use repetition. It can lift a speech from prose to poetry.
- End on a positive, forward-looking note.
- Include a call to action. He asks people to lend support to the president-elect, whatever their political beliefs.
Some other thoughts:
- Arnie is reading a script. A carefully written, fine-tuned, masterpiece of a script. It is on autocue. Most people cannot read autocue without being trained or training themselves. One of the benefits of short sentences is that they make reading aloud much easier. So the script is written to be spoken, not written to be read. (We teach this.)
- The background is relevant and personal, his study. But it is way too busy and distracting in my view. I prefer a cleaner image.
- I suspect this was not done in one take. You will see that there are what is called in the trade ‘cutaways’. A different view – from the side. Cutaways allow inconspicuous editing, so it’s likely even Arnie had several goes at it. Planning for cutaways makes life much easier for the performer. In this case, the cutaways are very amateur but they still made for easier editing.
If you want to learn to write for autocue or read autocue well, give us a call on +44 (0)20 7099 2212. We are also helping leaders in lockdown to connect with their Townhall audiences by sharing stories and ad-libbing using a message house. We can teach you how to do this too.