On June 4, 1940, Winston Churchill delivered a speech over the radio, as families all over England gathered around to listen. Within the speech were these words—perhaps his most famous ones:
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender …”
From Churchill, leaders can learn how to give others hope in a time of hardship or fear.
Churchill gave the English a hopeful vision of surviving despite the odds, by appealing to their hearts. He evoked heroes and their values. And he spoke to people as if they were adults, capable of comprehending the dangers.
Most of all, he used declarations about the future.
Leaders often don’t understand declarations, but using them in your communication is a powerful tool. Here’s what they sound like:
- They must be lofty but realistic.
- They must be delivered with confident words and body language.
- They must contain an emotional appeal that appeals to the spirit.
- They should include specific actions that will lead to the desired outcome.
- They must be spoken by a leader with real and perceived authority.
Don’t feel daunted. After all, Churchill rose to the occasion despite having a speech impediment that led him to rehearse his speeches for hours. Like most things, powerful declarations require practice.
— Adapted from “The Power of Declarations: Winston Churchill and Leaders Today,” Lyn Boyer, ThoughtLeaders.