In a brief eleven minute speech King Mswati III of Swaziland opened the new Swaziland Revenue Authority in Mbabane.
The King’s speech was short. A good thing. But it also proved to be heavy going.
In truth his subject matter wasn’t the best. How many of his audience really relished the prospect of a new Swaziland revenue department raising and collecting taxes from one and all? But aÂ King’s speech can prove a burden.
His choice of words suggests an old English education. Yes, he was educated at Sherborne school, in Dorset. But the words might also have been written by an official speechwriter–an ancient retainer, perhaps.
For example, we had:
The setting up of the authority is clear testimony that, as a nation, time has come to strengthen our revenue collection mechanism.
It is this regard that we need to rally behind the Revenue Authority and give the team all the support and cooperation they need to carry out this national duty.
These are word and speech formations that are rarely heard nowadays.
The King’s speech had purpose and structure. He sign-posted the place marks in his speech to perfection. And, importantly, each section was brief and to the point.
The words in the King’s speech sounded as if they were meant to impress. As if their choice said something about the King himself or, indeed, about Swaziland:
In this contemporary environment, characterized by volatile socio-economic challenges and unpredictable external conditions, countries need to safeguard the wellbeing of their people through a concerted effort to doing things in a more efficient and coordinated manner.
But 37 word sentences are a struggle to speak and a bigger struggle for an audience to understand. This style of speech writing didn’t do justice to the modernising subject of the King’s speech.
The speech itself describes how a modern nation State needs a tax collection authority worthy of the modern world. The speech itself suggests that the King and his courtiers have more taxing work to do.
The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+