I’ve previously written about how how a speaker looks is an element of their persuasiveness and this week I thought I’d apply this to Margaret Thatcher (I’ve also written about how she lowered the pitch of her voice to appear more credible).
This comes in the week that a US survey on media coverage of women candidates found that when the media focuses on a woman candidate’s appearance she pays a price in the polls. This finding held true whether the coverage of a woman candidate’s appearance was framed positively, negatively or in neutral terms.
In my last post I discussed how the body of a speaker conveys their character and is part of the persuasive tools of the politician. But the body of a politician, and in particular the head of state, can also be taken to convey the character of the entire country.
Eva Percy, part of the Speeching research group, writes about her recent visit to the House of Commons.
On the evening of the 25th February I had the privilege to enter into Parliament. Within the Parliament buildings there was a sense of authority and importance, a sense of power. The infrastructure oozed history, as it dawned on me that within these buildings history was made. Individuals walked with determination and vigour. As I walked through Westminster Hall, on my way to the House of Commons, I felt awe and amazement wash through me. As I went to collect my ticket for access into the Special Gallery, I felt excitement and curiosity.
On Tuesday 5 February, MPs backed a bill to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales. A number of MPs made impassioned speeches in support and opposing the bill but one that stood out for me was by David Lammy, MP for Tottenham who drew a parallel between race equality and equality for for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. It stood out as a good example of some of the points I am interested in in this project; an example of repetition, an example of movement and an example of identity.
Speeching is a project to find different ways to understand political speeches, not just with our eyes, ears and brains, but by using all of our bodies.
Speeching comes from a wider interest of mine in understanding democratic politics from the perspective of the body – what actually happens physically when we vote, when we demonstrate or when we sign a petition? Perhaps by understanding – or even changing – democratic politics at this level we can find new ways of doing things before we can think of them rationally.