Getting Over Yourself

January 26, 2015

What was good about Mario Cuomo’s speaking ability?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 1:15 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

People always ask who I consider to be good speakers. And there are many. Here are 2 YouTube videos that you can watch for examples of good pauses, of being in the moment, of being conversational and connected to the audience. Watch them for the way they present the ideas and pick up a few tips for yourself.

And, if you don’t get caught up with whether or not you agree with the message, you can also see these as examples of the speaker being invisible–keeping you focused on their message rather than on their personal characteristics.

Mario Cuomo’s recent passing recalled his speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention and you’ll easily find that on YouTube. If you watch that one, you should be impressed with how he was able to keep his focus in that huge arena with so many things going on around him.

This interview on 60 Minutes shows how seamlessly he moves from conversation to a speech. He’s pretty much the same either way. The first 7 minutes of this clip shows him in several speaking situations.

The second is one I just came across recently and it’s a woman speaking on a religious subject. Such subjects can be hard to carry off without sounding personal and also to be engaging. I think you’ll find this accomplishes both.

For more tips:


September 6, 2012

A really good speaker vs. a great speaker

San Antonio, Mayor, Julian Castro made his city and his family proud with his speech at the Democratic Convention. He did all the things you would be taught to do to be a good speaker and he did them well.
Michelle Obama and President Clinton just upped the ante.
Abraham Mazlow names 4 stages of learning: unconscious incompetency (ignorance is bliss); conscious incompetency (I can’t do that); conscious competency (if I focus on it I’ll get it right); and unconscious competency (what was the big deal?).
And there you have it. Castro is still aware of getting it right–Michelle and Bill can give themselves over entirely to the message.
You’ll be sought after as a speaker if you can do anywhere near as well as Castro. And then, why not aspire for unconscious competency where you have the possibility of molding and shaping an audience with your message?

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?

August 28, 2012

Even if the conventions are political theater you can learn something

This morning I heard a reporter announce that she wasn’t going to cover the conventions because there’s really no news taking place. That it’s all political theater. I won’t argue with that, but if you’re serious about your speaking you probably still ought to watch. It might give you insights as to the candidate’s positions, but even if it doesn’t, it can be educational.

Do you like Mitt Romney? His wife Ann? Chris Christie?  All have different speaking styles and it’s interesting to see if you’re being swayed by that instead of by the message. Both conventions may offer ideas that are worth thinking about. Are you able to listen to the ideas regardless of whether the speaker is good at speaking or not?

Make that your mission. Because if you can figure out why you enjoy listening to some speakers and not others, you’ll make progress with your own speaking. Separate yourself from your political biases and just observe–facial expressions, pauses, length of eye contact, freedom of movement, tone of voice, appropriate inflection. Is their congruity between the message and how it’s being presented?

It’s a great couple of weeks for honing your speaking skills with such a huge number of speakers in such a short time. I hope you use this opportunity as you work to hone your skills.

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