Getting Over Yourself

October 11, 2016

What does Trump’s hair matter? There’s something to be learned.

In a class last week I was making the point that no one really cares what you look like (if they think your hair is weird they may notice but they won’t care), a woman said she thought Trump’s hair was so odd that she couldn’t hear anything he said.

And that just makes another important point. The most important part about speaking is connecting with your audience. Trump has connected with millions of people and they don’t care about his hair or about what he says. A woman interviewed on the news this morning about the Trump video that was released this week, said, “We don’t care about any of that.”
He apparently knows who his audience is and has solidly connected with them. So, the woman in my class who can’t listen to him because of his hair doesn’t feel connected.

It’s really not about your hair, or so many of the things we worry about when we’re presenting. It’s all about the connection.

Connecting happens with your attitude: I want to be here, I’m glad you’re here, and I want to share this with you. And connecting happens with your content: Choose facts, data, examples, stories that will make your point and resonate with this audience.

Be clear on who your audience is and what your approach will be to connecting and they won’t be distracted by those side issues. That makes it more likely that they’ll respond well to your point.

http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

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.

June 14, 2016

Muhammad Ali vs. Donald Trump

In listening to recent video clips played after Muhammad Ali’s passing, it struck me that while he and Donald Trump both speak with total conviction, there’s a difference in attitude.

Ali always had a touch of playfulness as he said, “I’m the Greatest!” It always felt to me like we were enjoying it with him. Trump is obviously having a good time, but it feels much more heavy-handed and more about him.

What does that mean for our speaking? We can see how important it is to speak with conviction and not let doubts about our value enter into our speaking. And also that you can be passionate with sounding personal or angry.

There are speaking lessons all around us if we’ll take a moment to look at speakers objectively to see just what about their speaking works or doesn’t work.

Saves a lot of trial and error and moves us forward faster.

March 2, 2016

Can anyone trump, Trump?

This whole election cycle is so interesting I hardly know where to start. They’re always interesting in terms of learning things about your own speaking–what works and what doesn’t. But this time has certainly bumped up the stakes.

The question seems to be: Can anyone trump, Trump?

One lesson to learn from for your own speaking skills is that you can’t really copy anybody else. Marco Rubio is suddenly sounding like Donald Trump in his choice of words, but his delivery falls short.

I think there are very few people in the world who could successfully carry off what Trump is doing. Listen to his voice and watch his body language–which are a huge part of his message. His voice completely condemns someone either with it’s total conviction as fact, or as completely dismissive of an idea he wants to trash.

Marco Rubio can’t quite commit because it’s not an ingrained part of his persona. So his words are matching Trumps in snideness but his voice comes short of conviction so it tends to sound more whiny or defensive.

I once heard someone say, “Never wrestle with a pig in mud. You just get dirty and the pig likes it.” Perhaps there’s something in that that can be applied here.
Part of the problem with going after Trump and trying to straighten everyone out with the facts about him, is that when his supporters are interviewed some have made it clear it’s not about the facts. They’re “mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore.”

Aristotle said something like, “People make up their minds based on emotion and justify it with the facts.” My mother always joked about people who wouldn’t listen, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Something in one of those applies here. So trying to share facts may just make Trump’s supporters mad at you for suggesting they’re stupid.

At the least, what you may get is that you’re better off to be authentic. And that no matter how much you admire someone else’s style, or no matter how much you want to come out on top, copying probably isn’t the answer.

February 4, 2016

Trump vs. Cruz as speakers

Let’s remove the politics–if you can–and observe some points about speaking that can help you with your speaking.

Everyone seems to agree that

  • it’s Trump’s entertainment value that has caused the debate ratings to be so high
  • it’s general anger at our current “state of the union” that has attracted so much enthusiasm for Trump, Cruz, and Sanders, and that
  • misstatements, incorrect facts, or showy rhetoric haven’t caused their supporters to defect.

So, I’m only going to look at speaking style and attitude as you hone your skills in assessing why you like or don’t like any particular speaker.

Donald Trump is blustery in a childlike (sometimes childish) way. Sometimes he’s kind of like that inappropriate 4-year-old that everyone finds endearing while also recognizing the inappropriateness. Sometimes he’s like a teenager who just keeps getting louder to cover up mistakes, or who attacks by attributing his own behavior to someone else.

He makes those who he considers his audience feel included “it’s you and me.” [I would suggest that you avoid the phrase you uses so often, some version of “let me be honest with you.”]

On the other hand, Ted Cruz manages to feel like the parent to Trumps child. His words say that we’re all in this together, but his demeanor is more disapproving–of most things–even when he’s speaking positively. Where Trump seems to be spontaneous and enjoying the process and himself, Cruz seems rehearsed and careful.

Perhaps he is harking back to his debate training, but his jokes feel planned and barbed. (Ben Carson has had a few planned jokes, but his consistently flat delivery and delight in his point seem to make them actually feel funny.) You have many times heard me hold forth on the importance of pauses. But even here the his voice inflection and attitude make those pauses border on scary rather than encouraging.

One thing they have in common: they both make it sound like “it’s my way or the highway.” I can’t counsel you on how that will turn out for them, only that I don’t recommend that as a strategy in your speaking.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio are both more welcoming in their demeanor. They’re more in the mode of inviting others to listen to the voice of reason without so much of the “I’ve got an axe to grind” tone in their voices. There’s more of a feeling that “this is what I believe and you get to make up your own mind.” And there’s no question, they do believe it.

Who knows how it will end? But I encourage to use all these political presentations as part of your speaking education. I would not encourage you to try to emulate anyone. But you can look for the principles that are or aren’t working in terms of speaking and work to incorporate the principles. If you can separate yourself from your own political views in the process.

For more: http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

November 16, 2012

Was it advertising or body language that lost Romney the election?

It’s interesting to hear pundits hang the loss on the lost opportunity early on to answer the negative ads with ads of his own.

Here’s just one more research result that shows how powerful an influence appearance is on our election choices.

http://www.caltech.edu/content/caltech-led-researchers-find-negative-cues-appearance-alone-matter-real-elections
We really don’t like to think we’re that shallow, but apparently we are. While there are many positive aspects to Romney’s physical appearance, he has several mannerisms that just don’t jibe with our inner expectation of what a President should look like. I mentioned before the coy way he tucks his head and looks up (something that worked well for Princess Di, but not for a presidential candidate). He stopped it during the debates, but there it was front and center when he conceded the election, as well as his habit of taking steps that are just a bit too small for his size.
These may be a mark of a really nice guy, but they’re not indications of strength (I’m talking about how we emotionally respond, not about whether or not he actually is strong), and not what we expect a President to look like.
And my point is? My point is that you may be the greatest person in the world at what you do, but sadly, people won’t find you credible if you distract them with your body language.

September 6, 2012

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.

February 27, 2012

Will this NASCAR analogy break down?

Does Rick Santorum really want the NASCAR analogy to hold? He likened the possibilities of coming from behind in the NASCAR race to coming from behind to win the race to become the Republican presidential candidate. But that was before he race was postponed because of rain. So, if his analogy holds true, does that mean that there will be an open convention for the Republican nomination?

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