There is a free public workshop on public speaking for leaders currently available on network and cable TV every day. This workshop is being led by two unwitting workshop facilitators. Their credentials are impeccable — they have spoken to groups of all sizes for many years. They have honed their craft to the point that it is one of their most important professional skills. And they have been coached on these skills for years, right up until today.
The workshop is the United States presidential election, facilitated by President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
To be sure, the message and context of their public speaking is different than ours, and yet, because of all the reasons listed above, this is a workshop worth paying attention to. Here are five big lessons you will gain if you attend this free workshop. So, take off your partisan political hat, and let’s learn from two accomplished public speakers.
Hone your message. Whether you like the message of one candidate or the other, both have sharply honed their messages. They know their key points and have worked on stating them in a powerful and influential way. They also know what many leaders forget: that repetition is the mother of learning. The candidates state and restate their core message. They don’t leave it to chance — and neither should you. Do you know your core message and are you able to say it in a powerful and influential way? Are you willing to repeat it often?
Play to your strengths. The candidates play to their strengths both from a message and style perspective. The best speakers know their strengths and use them effectively. Do you know yours? Do you use them as effectively as you could?
Answer questions. This is one that the candidates don’t do as well as you will. They often take a question and simply use it as a launching pad for the point they really want to make with a clever (though often transparent) transition. This is one area in which you don’t want to emulate the next leader of the Free World. When people ask questions, give them a complete answer. If, after that, you transition to reiterate an important point, fine, but start by answering the question you’ve been asked. Do you answer or avoid questions?
Notice the non-verbals. Our messages are carried by far more than our words. Both candidates have been criticized for non-verbals that didn’t send the proper message. Overall however, the candidates are very good at the use of non-verbal behavior — from a smile to a firm handshake to inviting body language. Beyond that, notice how they dress to match their audience, often adjusting this within a long day of events. Non-verbals matter. Do you know how well your non-verbals match your intended message, and if not, do you have a way to get that feedback?
Be yourself. In the end, a big part of your ability to influence while giving a speech or presentation is for people to see who you are, connect with you, and yes, like and trust you. The best way to do this is by being you. Bring who you are to the presentation — don’t try to act or be someone or something you aren’t. Are you genuine and real when you present?
Actually there are more than five public speaking lessons we can gain from the candidates — in fact I will share several more, plus lessons on change, organizational development and other critical here.skills in a special teleseminar next Monday, November 5 titled Presidential-sized Leadership Lessons: Real-world leadership lessons in the polls, press and process of a Presidential Election. For more information on the details and to register, go