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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Autocue and the credit crunch

We know that politicians have their speeches written for them. We know that they're reading from transparent prompting systems. A few have the knack of making it appear as if they're just plucking their thoughts from the air. Some people, like Tony Blair, became so good at it that they eventually overdid the pauses and the general "look, no hands" approach.

George Bush, on the other hand, not only looks as if he's reading it but actually looks as if he's reading it for the first time. This is particularly distressing at a time like this when concern should be balanced by an impression of confidence.

Working with prompting technology is an odd experience. Because it relieves the speaker of the need to remember his words it leads to the temptation to stop thinking and let the mouth do the work. Because it keeps scrolling it tends to make people talk more quickly than is natural and results in sentences that carry too much freight for the listener to take it in. Most serious of all, because it only shows the paragraph, or even the sentence, that he is speaking it can result in the speaker being struck by the terrifying thought - what am I about to say next? That's what the look on George Bush's face says to me.