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Speech and Body Language

14 Feb Speech and Body Language

We have recently launched a new Junior Debating Society and girls have been busy analysing some of the great speeches made throughout history. It is interesting however to note that myths can easily develop in relation to speeches that have been made in recent times. Take, for example, Churchill’s famous speech from 1940 after the evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk. This was a humiliation for British forces and yet Churchill spoke eloquently to the British public about the way forward. Our view of Churchill is that he rallied the nation. (The full text of the speech can be accessed here. ) However, Churchill did not actually broadcast his speech. At that time, a BBC announcer simply read sections of it during the nightly news.  Few people, when they hear the speech on radio or TV documentaries, are aware that they are listening to Churchill speaking not in 1940 but nine years later. Another myth that we are often led to believe is that everyone who was present in the Commons that day was inspired by Churchill’s speech.  Labour MP Emanuel Shinwell commented: We were very much depressed as a result of the events that led to him making this speech, and all his oratory could not remove that depression.  Churchill appears to have been very different to today’s MPs; he was prepared to risk depressing his audience whatever the cost; he wanted to make the MPs and the British public face up to reality. At this point in the war, he did not want to create a sense of false optimism. If you want to learn more about Churchill’s speeches it is worth looking at The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (OUP Oxford, 2013) . If you are more interested in body language as a means of expression, researchers at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at New York University and Princeton University have recently discovered that facial expressions can be very difficult to read when trying to judge positive and negative emotions. One of the researchers comments: These results show that when emotions become extremely intense, the difference between positive and negative facial expression blurs”. In fact, we are really looking forward to welcoming Mike Carter, a body language specialist, to KEHS on 3rd March to work with over 60 NQTs who will be joining us for the second of their regional training sessions.

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