Sunday, September 16, 2012

Making Powerful Speeches: Bill Clinton University [Regardless Of Your Political Leaning, A Great Speech Is....Well...Great.]

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I know...It's "THE INFOSPHERE BUSINESS ALERTS AND INTELLIGENCE BLOG." I made this error on purpose just to Humanize myself to my audience. So there, you critics! They say that public speaking is the greatest fear which most people face. Ironically, once you've begun your speech, the fear dissipates very quickly, and your heart rate returns to its normal level.

This is an article about public speaking, and the art and science of speech making. It is not an article about politics, although so much of what transpires in the political arena is based upon public speaking and image-making.

Admittedly, the title is a bit overstated. As of today, there is no "Bill Clinton University." There's not even a "Bubba College" anywhere that I can seem to find. But regardless of these lamentable (?) realities and regardless of your political inclinations, you are probably aware that Bill Clinton is a powerful, dynamic, influential speaker. He uses a wonderful combination of signalling and messaging techniques (i.e., body language) to punch his points across.

Leaders are expected to be powerful speakers. Those aspiring to higher-ranking positions within their organizations are much more likely to become visible and promotable by their ability to speak both in private and publicly, whether its the conference room, the boardroom or the auditorium. Leaders are expected to be three things:

1) Decisive, and confidence-inspiring;

2) Problem-solvers who know how to delegate authority and tasks;

3) Exceptional communicators -- like former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

It is worth taking a page from his playbook.
Some quick tips on your speech making:

1) An erect posture is critical. It signifies command and importance of both the message and the speaker;

2) Use dynamics - vary the volume of your voice; it keeps your audience awake and attentive. Change your voice from a booming crescendo to a whisper if you want your audience to sit up in their seats and listen extra carefully;

3) Keep the pitch of your voice deep and rich. Bill Clinton is a tenor, but he compensates for his higher-pitched voice by speaking extra clearly and enunciating each and every word. You should do the same.

4) Make eye contact with your audience in two ways -- Choose a person toward the back of the room and direct your eyes toward him or her as if you were speaking directly and intimately to that individual -- then, periodically, take your focus off of that person, sweep the entire room with your gaze (slowly and very deliberately), and choose another individual "speech target."

5) Use body language, especially your hands, to emphasize points. A fist striking an open palm is a very good anchor (borrowing this latter term from hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming) when making a key point. A distinct physical movement, combined with a stop after having made a point creates a strong impression; an anchoring effect.

6) If your speech is a lengthy one (i.e., more than 3 minutes), walk around...pace contemplatively so that the audience must follow your movements. When commanding an audience, you are like the conductor of an orchestra. Take control;

7) Be passionate about your subject. Demonstrate your passion in every verbal and non-verbal way. Passion is contagious and memorable. Be intense;

8) Keep your sentences short and pointed. Each sentence should be delivered like an archer's well-aimed arrow; and

9) Maintain a consistent theme and don't meander from it. Repeat it. Keep coming back to it. Repetition is the "mother of learning."
A fabulous means for developing your speaking and speech making skills is to watch videos of other great speakers. If you are attentive and studious, you will naturally acquire some of the best attributes or "tricks" of the speakers whom you are observing. Learn by watching, listening and practicing.

Douglas E. Castle for The InfoSphere Business Alerts And Intelligence Blog and The Daily Burst Of Brilliance Blog

Excellent articles on this topic are listed below under "Related Articles." I've also listed other blogs which would be of interest to my readers who are interested in the topics relating to leadership and communications.

p.s. Please retweet (RT) to make our day complete. Thank you.

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