‘We can face the confidence with future’: A media lesson from Julia Gillard

Slips of the tongue happen all the time. They’re not a problem.
What matters is how we handle them. When speaking in public (or televised from Parliament), the best way to handle them is to pause, smile, and correct yourself. A minor blip.
The worst way to handle them is to ‘power on’ and pretend it didn’t happen. Unfortunately this is what Julia Gillard did yesterday in Parliament.
“We can face the confidence with future.”
Julia got her words muddled and said ‘We can face the confidence with future.’ Worse, she then backed it up with ‘And we can face the confidence with future because we have a sound economy…”
Here’s a link to see for yourself (about 1 min into the video).
She didn’t stop to correct herself, in fact it seemed she didn’t even notice. Now the audience is left to ponder questions like:

  • Is she tiring of these messages or her role?
  • Does she often read scripts without thinking about what she’s saying?
  • Are they her thoughts or a scriptwriter?
  • Does she really mean the other things she says?

At minimum the message is lost. The greater risk is that the credibility of the speaker is questioned. It creates a major disconnect between the speaker and the audience. Now, Julia was probably tired and she can still brush it off at a later date and deliver clear and memorable messages in the future.
When dealing with the pressure of the media or a large audience, slips of the tongue are common. So it’s useful to know what to do…
The lesson:
If this has happened to you (and it’s happened to many of us!), take note for next time.

  • If you are speaking too quickly to notice it, take it as a signal to slow down – find a pace that lets you keep your awareness sharp. (Most people speak faster than is comfortable. It’s ok to choose the pace that let’s you breathe comfortably).
  • Or if you’re reading notes without thinking, take it as an opportunity to see that reading notes word for word can shut down your mind. Having notes is ok, but be sure you are creating some of the sentences yourself – that way your mind will stay alert and active.

By the way, Tony Abbott had a better day as the media highlighted his 2 point message: “We don’t want a carbon tax and secondly, we want an election.” Points to Abbott on this occasion.
If you’d like to develop your media skills, consider: