We Shall Not Fall

From his soaring speeches and inspirational BBC broadcasts to his daring journalism as a young wartime correspondent, Churchill was a master communicator. He did far more than simply raise the spirits of the British and the Allies during the war. Few authors, public speakers, or journalists can point to more popular and literary success than that of Winston Churchill. He was one of the most highly paid, best-read authors and journalists of the twentieth century. He won the Nobel Prize in literature.

Perhaps more than any modern figure Churchill demonstrated how communication skills set a leader apart from the pack. Though few may equal his verbal mastery, Churchill’s accomplishments are worth studying because so much of what he achieved came through hard work and innovative approaches. Early in his career he development elaborate methods for preparing speeches and producing everything from simple memos to multivolume histories. Churchill’s techniques of research and dictation are especially relevant for today’s time-crunched executives.

Churchill’s elegant language, piercing wit, and knack for hitting upon a rhythmical yet simple phrase to pay homage or inspire are what come immediately to mind when we think of Churchill the Communicator. Phrases like, “Give us the tools and we will finish the job,” and “men will say, “’This was their finest hour.’” are among his well-known sayings. But what truly distinguished him as a speaker and writer was his overriding sense of purpose and his ability to uplift, persuade, and tug at the heartstrings. Whether he was broadcasting or dictating a memo, Churchill always had a specific goal in mind.

What makes Churchill’s legacy all the more pertinent for leaders today is that he was largely self-taught. In other words you do not have to graduate from Harvard or Oxford to become proficient on the podium and with the pen.

Portfolio, 2003. Published in three languages.

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