Great ora-Tory! Has Rishi Sunak had speech lessons?

Great ora-Tory! Has Rishi Sunak had speech lessons?

Has Rishi Sunak had public speaking lessons? PM’s polished delivery at Conservative Conference was ‘calmer, less nasal and more statesman-like’, says speech expert

  • Read more: Rishi Potter! PM Sunak tells This Morning he charmed wife Akshata Murty while dressed as the boy wizard 

Rishi Sunak impressed the Tory party faithful in Manchester this week with his slick speech, captivating those gathered around the lectern – and plenty beyond – with his smooth delivery. 

While always an accomplished public speaker, there was some speculation following the PM’s Wednesday address – introduced by his equally polished wife Akshata – that Mr Sunak may have had some intensive lessons in oratory ahead of the Conservative Party Conference.

Mr Sunak delivered his powerful speech – just over an hour long – on the final day of the party conference, telling Conservatives he would ‘change’ Britain in the way Margaret Thatcher did. 

Compared to his ‘I am the underdog’ campaign speech in 202 , one expert suggested the Tory party leader has come on leaps and bounds with his latest address, ironing out public speaking pitfalls such as a ‘goofy, nervous smile’, becoming ‘less nasally’ and ‘more grounded’ in his body.

A confident looking Rishi Sunak took the lectern at the Conservative Party annual conference at Manchester Central this week, so, has the PM being honing his public speaking skills?

Speech expert Matt Matheson aka The Speaking Coach told MailOnline he thought it was likely the PM had had some help developing his public speaking ahead of the conference, in a bid to appear follow history’s oratory greats including Winston Churchill and Barack Obama. 

He explains: ‘If you look at Rishi’s leader campaign speech in Grantham from last summer, there are some distinct differences to his address this week. 

“He was previously less “grounded” in his body and there was more reading of his speech – a lot of looking down – rather than having a relaxed, present attention. There was also almost a goofy, smiley-ness, which may have indicated nerves.

In July last year, as he campaigned to be PM, Sunak’s speech in Grantham saw him rely much more heavily on notes, and seem more nervous at the lectern

The PM struggled to sound convincing, says Matt: ‘If we look at where he used intonation in that speech, where he landed his messages, where he brought weight and punch, it doesn’t sound completely natural.

‘It was almost like he was trying too hard to land the points with intonation and impact. It’s a good speech but it doesn’t quite have that polish of someone that’s been doing this for many years.’

This week’s speech? A very different affair, says Matheson. 

‘We saw a calmer, more stable presence; primarily in Mr Sunak’s body, which then informs how his voice sounds, and how it’s picked up by the audience. 

‘When he did move his body on stage in Manchester, it was in a more conscious manner. He paused – in his body – when he wanted a certain message to come. 

Mr Sunak delivered his speech on the final day of the party conference where he vowed to  ‘change’ Britain like Margaret Thatcher did

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty greet people on stage at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester

The PM appeared slightly less nasally, and a little lower in tone too. 

Says Matheson: ‘When we are in our head rather than our body, we tend to talk faster and that can come out more nasally. 

When we’re confident in our message, there tends to be less of that faster dialogue which can lead to a nasally delivery.’ 

The verdict? Has the PM worked with a speech coach or orator? ‘I think there’s a good chance he has. Do I think he’s completely there? No. He doesn’t seem 100 per cent comfortable, and he doesn’t seem 100 per cent authentic. From a delivery point of view, in terms of making a famous speech in history, there’s work to be done still.’

Mr Sunak’s speech was the joint longest delivered by a Conservative prime minister at a party conference this century, equalling the one hour and four minutes managed by Theresa May in 2017. 

Key themes included stopping work on the HS2 links between Birmingham and Manchester, an incremental smoking ban and tougher sentences for sexually-motivated murderers.

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