Getting Over Yourself

August 10, 2016

Does Donald Trump WANT to be President?

Donald Trump reminds me of my son when he was 14: he’d get caught for stuff that was so ridiculous that I could only conclude that someone as smart as he wanted to get caught.

This feels a lot like that in that Trump says things that seem designed to keep him from getting elected. And, since he’s apparently a smart guy, it looks as though it’s his way of being sure he isn’t elected.

Perhaps this is his way of avoiding the actual tedious nature of BEING President. And just have the fun of being the HUGE center of attention for a year or so.

Perhaps once his numbers were terrific and it looked like being President was a real possibility for him, he just removed any boundaries..

Who knows how the election will turn out. He’s broken all the rules and has had great numbers. But please, don’t use him as a role model for your speaking–except for the part where you hone in on being perfectly clear who your audience is and tailoring your message to them.

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October 11, 2012

Watch how the candidates walk

There’s a certain amount of walking involved when candidates give speeches or are in debates. And it’s just interesting to see if you get any kind of message from how they walk and shake hands with each other. We (as a general thing) give more weight to these visual cues than to the content. So see if you’re being swayed by these seemingly irrelevant things.
So, tonight it’s Biden and Ryan. Next week Romney and Obama. An adequate amount of time to observe.

October 3, 2012

What to look for in the debates that will help your speaking

The presidential debates can offer you free speaking training so I suggest you watch them and look for some specific things. If you record it, you can watch once for content and once for improving your speaking. (You really have to put your personal prejudices aside for you to get the most out of this exercise.)

Things to look for:

The biggest one is did they take something personally? If so, it can be a big lesson to you on why not to do it. My mother always told me it was my tone of voice that caused the problems with my brother. Well, if you take things personally it will affect your tone of voice (and your body language). And, in this case, it may affect how listeners vote.

If they interrupt does it seem pushy or passionate?

How many times do they sidestep the question and give a pre-programmed answer? And do you care?

What are they doing while the other person speaks? Are they listening? Frowning? Looking interested? Frustrated? Angry?

How well do they stay within the allotted time?

Do they shift their weight back and forth? Grip the lectern?

How steady are their eyes?

And note as well how any anomalies strike you. For instance, during the debates, President Clinton didn’t stand behind a lectern and it worked for him. Al Gore came out from behind as well and it didn’t work for him. It isn’t always what they do or say, but whether or not it seems comfortable or forced.

Studies show that the visual and the tone of voice trump the words, so try to separate those “channels”so you can tell what’s influencing you (and everyone else).

There are subtleties in speaking that affect how your audience perceives your message. These debates are an incredibly naked and brutal forum for a speaker. And, has been said many times, running for office and governing take two entirely different skill sets.

But watching them can be a great help in your own efforts to be a better speaker. Watch and learn.

September 6, 2012

Ann vs. Michelle

Okay, really they both were good, so “vs.” probably isn’t accurate.
They both spoke from the heart with good pauses, good eye contact, genuine appreciation for the subject of their talks.

One thin they (and all the “regular” folks who talked) illustrated is that it’s easier to stay focused on your message if  you know you’re not the reason that you’re speaking. It’s harder for candidates (would you really want to run for President and take all guff?) to divorce themselves because they’re going to take flak no matter what they say.
But if you want to improve your speaking, I recommend that you watch whichever speakers you find dynamic (lots to choose from these Convention weeks) several times. It will help you with your rhythms. Don’t try to copy, just absorb the rhythm of a speaker who is completely with the idea and not focused on technique or adulation.

Again, I think it’s quite instructive to watch how they handle the crowds chanting and applauding when they’re introduced as well how how they handle the interruptions.

Michelle Obama has such poise that she could acknowledge that the interruptive applause was taking place, but not let it control her being in charge of the occasion. It was masterful. As was the rest of her speech.

If you can forget the politics and appreciate the speakers, there’s  a ton you can learn from these speakers.

And, since everything is streamed online, you can watch anything you’ve missed and take time to analyze what’s working and not working.

Don’t you love the free lessons?

Will Mitt Romney’s Eyes Decide the Election?

According to polls, Mitt Romney has a problem with “likeability.” And the Republican Convention presented a lot of evidence to the contrary. Plenty of people spoke to how likeable he is.

Yet, when he speaks, he doesn’t lift himself much in the likeability arena. He’s one of those that sounds stronger when you’re listening and not watching.

I think everyone has identified that he tucks his chin–which doesn’t help. He adds two more elements that work against him. He tucks his chin, tilts his head and then rolls his eyes to another part of the audience without moving his head. It looks coy. Not the image you’re looking for when you want credibility. (Try it, you can see that it doesn’t even feel good.)

There can be a number of reasons he does that–habit, his not wanting to look pushy, discomfort with his message. But even with the best of reasons the audience gets a message that he’s not wanting to send.

Audiences may interpret this as insincerity, ineffectiveness, uncertainty, dishonesty. And none of those may be true.

But, if 55% of whether or not an audience buys your message is visual, then you have to retrain yourself to make sure your visual component (everything the audience can see) isn’t giving off the wrong message.

Learn from the candidates so you’re making sure you’re sending the right message–the one you intended.

August 31, 2012

Governor Tim Pawlenty is an example of looks not matching sound

The former governor of Minnesota’s speech at the Republican Convention is a good one for you to watch without listening and listen without watching. He sounds much stronger than he looks. So radio would have been kinder to his speech.

And, interestingly, this man who was apparently on the short list for Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, gave a very vice-presidential speech. That is, he did a good job of being the attack dog–a role that traditionally is expected of the VP candidate.
On the other hand, Senator Marco Rubio, in terms of his speaking style, was completely congruent. His body and voice matched what he was saying, so if you watched and listened separately there was no disconnect. He handled the pauses well; his gestures were appropriate; and his voice indicated that he was in the moment. Present.

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