Make it snappy, make it happy

MR Patten, as you prepare for the big event in your public speaking year today, may we make some humble suggestions? Talk faster. If you're going to run over an hour, give us a break halfway through and bring on the oranges or lemonade, like they do at your beloved cricket.

Involve your audience, perhaps asking rhetorical questions or giving short anecdotal stories. And please, Mr Patten, try not to say Hong Kong so often or so much like a bass bell.

Wear a dark blue suit, and smile.

This is the advice from communications specialists, who have frequently likened the Governor to a preacher or schoolmaster.

One reported that a postgraduate study of his speeches' oratorical nature - use of metaphor and simile, climactic devices and such like - had been dropped when the student protested that they weren't interesting enough.

Such comments may be hurtful for Mr Patten, who, according to his aides, pores over certain sections of his speech to ensure he has just the right word. And of course, the aim of the policy address - to lay out the plans for the coming year - means it is not exactly an orator's dream.


But, despite the limitations, Mr Patten could make it more entertaining, say speakers and teachers.

'He seems to say Hooonngg Kooonngg every fifth word and it just drives me nuts,' said a City Polytechnic English lecturer and researcher into speaker effectiveness, Dino Mahoney.

'He should vary his speech rate and tone. It's noticeably slow and comes across as patronising.

'And he does tend to look a bit serious. He should smile more.


'He's got to avoid being a living metaphor of the Governor as a schoolmaster with Hong Kong people as the students.

'Speak as fast as possible, make it half an hour,' or go to the other extreme, said stand-up comedian Wong Chi-wah.


'Spread it over four hours or so and break for interaction in between, let people ask questions. I don't think he can be funny, it's not appropriate, which is too bad. But he can be entertaining, and to cut it short would be a good start.'