Monday, 1 August 2011


This morning Stephen Fry and Ian McMillan were having a conversation about an authentic voice on Stephen Frys splendid radio 4 programme 'Frys English Delight'.

Authentic Voice (mp3)

Authenticity is difficult because it means different things to different observers. In this case Ian McMillan is talking about voice about position about context. His voice would be seen as authentic commentating on the North/South divide or on the quality of Poetry inspired by the industrial revolution. He would not sound like an authentic voice on Native American Rights or the Struggle of Feminism in the 1970's.

Authenticity can also be used when an organisation has to build a narrative. I've been doing some training for The Meningitis Trust, a wonderful organisation that supports people who have had their lives altered by Meningitis; they have authenticity when it comes to narrative because they have access Case Studies. There is nothing more authentic than hearing a mother speak of the day that her 3 year old lost her legs to septicaemia. This is an authentic narrative it as context and it has truth.

One of the major problems a government has is presenting difficult financial information because although they sound well informed and inteligent they have difficulty sounding 'authentic'. Governments aren't filled with ordinary people but they have to make decisions that affect the lives of ordinary people. George Osborne will one day be the 18th Baronet Osborne he has an estimated personal fortune of £4 Million (not including what legacy he may receive) and was christened Gideon. George Osborne is the man that tells us there isn't any money for the things we used to have (like universal health care, roads or benefits) and he will never sound authentic doing it.

This is a combination of factors; firstly he doesn't know what it's like to worry about money and secondly he doesn't sound like he knows what it's like to worry about money.

Most of the rest of the country worry about money but he doesn't.

It's strange how times have changed, because one of the most authentic chancellors of the last 20 years was Ken Clarke a cabinet colleague of Gideon's George's

So what can an organisation do when there is a story to tell? Think about who the messenger is; do they sound authentic delivering that message and are they the best person to deliver it?

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