aaaaaaaaagh. My response to her Majesty’s Government Emergency Broadcast presentation regarding the 2nd Lockdown for Covid-19 at 7pm 31st October 2020. My response is not because I am against the lockdown. My response is not because I am so disappointed that we are back here due to failing to effectively manage the pandemic. My disappointment is due to a failure to effectively communicate.

aaaaaaaaagh. This is a life-changing presentation. The opportunity was to convince the audience of the need to make significant changes in their behaviour. That opportunity was squandered. The message (p1) was confused and complex. The supportive media (p2) was complex and distracting. The delivery (p3) was amateur, disjointed, and ineffectual. The overall value of the presentation was very poor (p cubed value). This is all in my personal opinion because that is what counts. Not as a self-styled presentation expert but purely as a recipient of the whole presentation.

How could it have been better? Well, that requires a whole rethink but a quick few thoughts may be of value. The message needed to be simple, memorable and clear. Ideally that is backed up by three key points, often three principal objections to that single message. The supportive media needs to support, without explanation, that message. The delivery needs to be simple, engaging and convincing.

I am not making this as a political point merely from a presentation stance. The endpoint required of this message was that lockdown would be happening. The key message could have been; “The evidence clearly shows that the numbers of patients significantly affected by Covid-19 are rising beyond our capacity to cope. A lockdown will be instituted.” That, as an introductory phrase means that everything that follows is in support of that. It is not a debate.

A useful rhetorical device is to consider the three main obstacles to this? I suspect they might be

  1. I don’t believe the numbers
  2. those numbers aren’t a problem
  3. lockdowns don’t work

A good presentation would address start with the message, address the three points, and leave the audience to come to their own and the only obvious conclusion that “a lockdown should be instituted.” Those steps should be clear to the vast majority of the audience, not simply an advanced epidemiologist.

The supportive media was ridiculous. It was taken directly from a document. It was complex and used multiple different styles and coding. It used an entirely unnecessary template and icons. It included quantities of text that were too small and distracting. It required interpretation of space and time that was not allowed within the stream of delivery.

The delivery of a message that is to change entirely the behaviour of a country should, probably, be made by the leader of the country. It is beyond understanding that the meeting was delayed four times. There is value in having leading scientists and clinicians assisting in this message but one would expect the most important person in the country to deliver the key message. It is incredible that in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world that the slides in a presentation are changed using the instruction, “next slide please,” and “can we go back a slide please.” The supportive media should be visible on the screen and not crammed in because “the graphics don’t work.” The speaker should be passionate and engaging.

Intriguingly, you may disagree with some or all of what I have written. That’s great, at least you have an opinion. Ask yourself though, what was the result of that message? aaaaaaaaagh.


  1. Felix Joachimski

    Sorry to ask: Where is the government’s presentation you refer to? Do you have a link?

    1. ffolliet (Post author)

      Felix, thank you for asking. I have updated the post with a link to the YouTube video.

  2. Felix Joachimski

    Even worse than the infamous Columbia slide disaster. It does not take a critical mind to recognize that but you had to stay awake throughout the whole ordeal. Thank you for your work – you save lives in both professions.


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