Great speeches – David Morrison ‘The standard you walk past…’

The leadership message is clear in this David Morrison speech.

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”Chief of Army David Morrison “If that does not suit you then get out.”

It’s recognised as one of the great speeches of recent years. In the midst of another sex scandal, around a “Jedi Council” internet sex ring, the leadership speech delivered by Chief of the Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, was posted as a 3 minute video.

This is a great leadership speech – for 3 reasons:

  1. It makes every listener responsible for leadership.
  2. The leadership message is unmistakable.
  3. The delivery is aligned with the message.


1. It makes every listener responsible for leadership

The language of this leadership speech forces people to see that they must display leadership qualities or the organisation suffers.

They see that THEIR actions make a difference to the culture of the organisation.

“Every one of us is responsible for the culture and reputation of our army and the environment in which we work.

If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it.”


2. The leadership message is unmistakeable

Leaderhip The Standard You Walk Past

People will forget most of what a leader says – even when that leader is a great speaker. It’s the nature of the human mind that listeners will forget most of what you say. That’s why message recall is so important in public speaking.

Great speeches always have a clear message. Ask yourself, what’s the memorable message from your speech that people will recall?

I spoke to dozens of people and asked them what they thought the key message was from the speech. They all nominated ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept’.

Admittedly, they couldn’t all repeat the message word for word:

  • ‘If you walk past something, you’re accepting it’
  • or ‘You have to set the standard and not walk past it’
  • or ‘There was a great line from that speech! Something about standards… Help me remember, um…’

But that’s fine. Message recall on most leadership speeches is zero.


3. The delivery is aligned with the message

Your delivery skills FOLLOW the clarity of your message.

They flow naturally when the message is clear in your mind and therefore, clearly reflected in your words. Each speaker should to be involved in crafting these messages to help the natural delivery skills magic to work.

In this video, Morrison shows genuine emotion. We see his pain and we are sure he means what he says. His delivery is slow enough to emphasise what’s important. He seems like it’s his message, not something he said because his PR team told him he had to make a speech.

He comes across as a leader because he shows how he cares about his organisation. It’s a serious tone, but it is seen as a caring tone because he cares for the people in his team and wants them to thrive in his organisation.


Click here for a full transcript




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