What We Can Learn from President Obama’s Eulogy for Reverend Pinckney

The public speaking world has been abuzz for the past week about a standout speech delivered by President Obama in the form of a eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people murdered at the historic Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18th. Over the past week, David Meerman Scott and I have been discussing both the content of the eulogy and its delivery – and… Read More

A Comparison of Two Inaugurals: Kennedy v Obama

President Kennedy gave 3 State of the Union addresses, and they are almost completely forgotten today.  His Inaugural Address, on the other hand, is cited frequently, and whenever great political speechmaking is discussed.  Rhetorically elegant, memorable, and inspirational, the speech deserves its iconic status. What will be the fate of President Obama’s Second Inaugural?  Will it become a frequently cited speech with the power to move people to action, or will it… Read More

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address and How to Close a Speech – 3 Quick Tips

After an opening that grabs your audience and doesn’t let it go, the next most important moment in a presentation is the ending.  That’s because we tend to remember best the last thing we hear.  So if you want to knock ‘em dead, you’d better be prepared to have a killer close. But most people find that creating such an ending is difficult.  The easy part – if any part of a… Read More

Blarney, Benghazi, and Binders: Takeaways from the Second Presidential Debate

The debate rematch saw a familiar Governor Romney matched up against a newly invigorated President Obama.  There was a lot of testosterone in the room; the two men stalked around the stage and each other doing their best to take up space and intimidate the other debater.  Romney walked stiffly, visibly tense, uneasy in his body, like an arthritic flamingo.  Obama prowled like an angry, predatory cat, waiting to pounce, and when… Read More

How President Obama and Governor Romney Should Prep for their Debates

The first debate perpetuated a huge national misconception about Presidential debates and the job of a leader in general.  The two candidates evidently prepped mightily, trying to learn all the facts they could about the economy, the country, and the government, but the sheer amount of data that they were clearly both filled with got in the way of their ability to speak cogently about national issues.  As a result, they retained… Read More

5 Takeaways from the Vice-Presidential Debate

The Vice-Presidential debate was a lot more fun than the first Presidential one.  Both candidates came out swinging and got in some good punches.  Ryan was good on Afghanistan, on Obama as a speaker not a doer, and on the basic premise of the Republican campaign, that the economy isn’t getting better fast enough.  Biden was good on just about everything, once he got over his Gore-like tendency to create a sideshow… Read More

5 Quick Lessons from the First Presidential Debate 2012

I’m taking a short break from my discussion of virtual communications to talk about the debates.  The received wisdom is that President Obama lost the debate and former Governor Romney won; 2/3rds of Americans polled thought so, and the commentators certainly did.  So what follows is a contrarian view.  My belief watching the debate was that all 3 participants lost, heavily – including Jim Lehrer, who was unable to function very well… Read More

Your First Speech, Kate Middleton, President Obama, and the Teleprompter

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is currently half of England’s most adorable royal couple, gave her first public speech yesterday.  Don’t envy her!  Where the rest of us have an audience of maybe a score or a hundred for our first speeches, Kate had the entire world.  How did she do?   She was adorable.  She was OK.  She was….the Duchess of Cambridge.  The speech was halting, because she read her… Read More

Who Are the Best and Worst Communicators of 2011?

Once again, my fellow communication coaches Decker Communications have published a “10 best and worst communicators for 2011,” and the list is fascinating both for those it includes and those it doesn’t, as well as what it says about us and where we are as a nation.  Most of the 10 worst are there because they deceived the public in some way, or broke trust with their constituents.  Most of the 10… Read More

Occupy Wall Street, Mitt Romney, and the NBA: Three Problems in Search of a Solution

It’s Friday and almost Thanksgiving here in the US, and so it seems like a good time to put my storyteller-speaker coach’s hat on, kick back, and take on a few of the current issues in the news.  Great stories, like great speeches, present compelling problems to the audience.  The catch is that in the end the audience always wants a solution.  Stories that continue to grab audiences’ attentions generation after generation… Read More