It’s possible I’m one of the few people who didn’t see The King’s Speech when it first played in theatres in 2010 or after it was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture. In fact, I only saw it a few weeks ago after discovering it was available on Netflix.
It was worth the wait on many levels, personally and professionally. And I didn’t waste any time incorporating the story (and the great metaphor it is for communicators) in a digital communications and social media training program I’d developed. That updated training was delivered last week to a group of public affairs professionals.
The movie shows it takes some effort to break old communication patterns and build new ones. It’s a struggle many communicators face, particularly those who have been conditioned to (or found comfort in) using corporate, legal or government language and tone. This all-to-common approach prefers modeling statements on press release titles which identify why the announcement is important to the speaker rather than why it might be of interest to the audience.
The metaphor really comes together at the end of the movie when the King delivers a speech on the outbreak of war with Germany. As part of his opening, King George notes he is addressing the large audience “as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.” And, for the most part, the speech does seem very personal and direct, even if the King often reminds his audience that it is large in numbers.
The payoff occurs immediately following the speech as part of an exchange between King George and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. After a moment of reflection, Logue notes to his patient and friend, “You still stammered on the ‘w’.”
“Well I had to throw in a few,” retorts the King, “so they’d know it was me.”
Be authentic. That’s the rub. Most impactful communication, even online, is identifiably you.