Was the Budget a Rhetoric Blowout, and can we Learn from this?

Thanks Mr Hockey, my ears are still ringing from the oversupply of rhetoric that went hand in hand with this week’s Budget announcement – “Have a go”, “Unleashing the opportunity”, “Engine room of new jobs”, “Give them a helping hand”, “The buck stops here”, “Trajectory back to surplus”, “We’ve got to get the balance right”…I could go on and on.

The Government’s apparent overzealous use of the phrase “Have a go” aside, spin and rhetoric play a vital part in today’s political, social and media spheres. Without rhetoric we might…zing…miss the importance of what is being said.

Rhetoric draws us in, it is the language of persuasion, a secret weapon that lights a fire in our bellies, helps us rise to the occasion and raises the hairs on our arms. We might not be so moved by the Budget announcement, but rhetoric in any form does raise a reaction – good or bad.

As for the Budget announcement, the continual use of rhetoric was at times irritating, but the Government did draw focus on and create headlines around key parts of the Budget.

We can learn from the rhetoric spilled in the Budget announcement by recognising that:

  • Language in its simplest form can be persuasive and powerful
  • Understanding the audience is vital
  • Targeted messages work
  • Over-repetition can be irritating
  • Honesty is best – people are not easily fooled
  • Picking a few key messages is most effective

While rhetoric is commonplace in public communication, there is something to be said about speaking openly, honestly, and simply to others without spin. As professional communicators, we shouldn’t lose sight of this.