Careers: Articles - Speak Like a Pro

We all know that communication is the key to success in business and in life, but what is it, exactly, that makes the difference between an awesome, earthshaking communicator and one who is simply average?

There are some very definite things that separate the Martin Luther Kings, John F. Kennedys and Winston Churchills from the rest.

The first is a clear, laser-like theme or message.

"Ask not what your country can do for you", "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat", "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", "Ich bin ein berliner", "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall", "I have a dream". These simple phrases or sentences summarize an entire personality, an entire speech and, in some cases, an entire movement. Your business speeches and presentations, and even your comments in a simple meeting, will break out of the norm if and when you take a few moments to simplify and laser-ize your message.

Once you have a solid theme, it is critical that you deliver it with conviction and commitment. You have to own every word. Listen to the conviction of Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy, King and Reagan. They didn't just read their speeches. They sold them!

Thirdly, you've got to reach every member of your audience, no matter how big or small. You do this by speaking in big concepts for the big picture people, hitting the critical facts for the detail crowd, really connecting, on a warm, personal level for the more touchy-feely ones and putting it all together in a smooth, user-friendly, easy to listen to story that makes everyone feel they've been with you for the entire ride.

And, to make that ride even more compelling, you've gotta have rhythm. Yes, rhythm. The most brilliant ideas, the most spectacular words, the most respected presenters can all fall flat without a cadence that makes your audience want to listen. Words can be . . . and should be, music and the great orators infuse their speeches with a rhythmic cadence not unlike that of a great symphony. Churchill, Kennedy, Anwar Sadat, Barbara Jordan and, of course, Martin Luther King were all masters at this.

But, as one examines the greatest speakers and the greatest speeches, one of the simplest qualities emerges as one of the most important. Authenticity. Pure and simple authenticity. Speaking from one's heart, like Lou Gehrig did as he stood in front of 60,000 at Yankee Stadium in 1939, is often all that one needs to really touch people and make your point and . . . improve your effectiveness as a leader.

The best leaders have several things in common, one of the most important is that they are able to speak to a crowd and make each and every person feel like they were speaking to them individually. Being a great speaker is sometimes a gift, but most times it is a combination of guts, ideas and practice.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.
For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and nationally syndicated author. His columns appear in over 150 publications, including the Los Angeles Business Journal. Dr. Goldsmith works regularly with The Young President¹s Organization (YPO) and The Executive Committee (TEC). Considered an expert on small business, he has spoken worldwide to groups of 10 to 5,000, and is in high demand for Keynotes, Training and Consulting. He may be contacted through his web site or at (818) 879-9996.



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