William Shakespeare does on message, in volume, over time

“On message, in volume, over time” is one of the favourite phrases of Nick Clegg’s strategy advisor, Ryan Coetzee. As a way of bundling up several pieces of good campaigning and communication advice into a simple, memorable phrase it is great.

Understanding the importance of repetition is nothing new, nor indeed is the resistance to repetition from some who think concentrating on repeating a message makes for dumbed-down politics for stupid people and is all rather beneath them.

In response, I have in the past liked pointing out how even Martin Luther King was a fan of repetition, as shown by his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech:

He’d been giving versions of that speech in churches and venues all across the country to the point that his advisers were absolutely tired of it.

I’ve now realised that William Shakespeare too can be called on in defence of repetition. In Othello, Iago invokes the power of repetition to persuade Roderigo to give him money, culminating in saying:

I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again.

Shakespeare and Martin Luther King? If even they with their skill with words thought repetition had a power, then most surely it does for you and I with our far lesser ability to make words persuasive.

For more on how to make use of repetition without becoming boring, see 101 Ways to Win An Election.

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