Be a New Communicator
New communicators are people like Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Oprah Winfrey: quite a mixed bunch. To be honest I am not sure if I am comfortable with Tony Blair because I always found him a little too smarmy and false. However, he was very successful at making a connection and influencing his audience. In looking at him we can see some of the techniques discussed here a little more obviously than with the others. I think this is because he seems to be trying so hard to implement them and be natural, that he comes across as a little false.
Looking at the others we can see a truer natural approach that seems genuine and lets the audience engage with the speaker. Think of Jobs at Mac World and the way he stood up on stage, with no notes, and spoke from the heart. The audience loved it, and consequentially loved what he was selling.
The worst communicators are those who read from a speech. If you want to do that just stand up and hand out a written copy to everyone. They can read it and get all the facts - they can even take it home and refer to it later.
That is not what speaking is about. Speak to influence; speak with passion, authority and confidence. If you know what you are talking about, and you should before you stand up, then you can influence people to your POV.
By all means, if the information you have is technical, give a handout at the END (never during or the audience will start reading that and not be listening to you).
New communicators are not really that new. It is just that so many people from the last century read speeches, that we became accustomed to the "old" style of speaking. It is so dry and passionless that audiences just tune out; especially in the modern age. You have to compete with short attention spans and multi media. If you lose your audience's attention they will be on their smart phones Tweeting and catching up on emails before you get a chance to have any influence.
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Who is The Gate Keeper?
Below this article you will find an extract from my book "Master Public Speaking in 7 Days". This part discusses the way our brains have evolved to protect us and a side effect of this is to block out messages from people we do not trust.
Whether we like it or not we are continually judging people by their appearance and the way that they behave. The old adage "never judge a book by its cover" is all well enough but we have evolved to do just that. In fact we are very good at judging on appearance and that is what has kept our species out of danger in the wilds for millennia.
If you want to get your message across and you want to have influence, first you have to get passed the gate keeper. Once you are trusted your message then has a chance at being heard and acted upon. Without that trust your audience will not even hear the words that you speak...
Our evolution has been long and fraught. Species have come and gone and we are developed from many. Our brains have evolved as well, but we still have many instincts that we developed for survival in the wild.
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US Presidential Debates 2012
What can we learn from watching these debates?
It seemed in the first debate that Obama was weak and not trying very hard. Where was the old Obama? He came back in the second and the third was definitely his.
Why did he win this last debate?
Obama had poise and command. He gave us the impression of a President, a man of decision, authority and confidence.
Romney had done well earlier but now seemed to have lost his confidence.
It is these impressions, however subtle, that viewers perceive, sometimes only subconsciously, that make all the difference.
Command: The President actually seemed to be channelling Governor Romney from the first debate. He was strong of voice, interruptive, turned most questions to attacks, and seemed to take command. Obama also had more detail and examples than Romney. (Of course one might expect that as the President has been briefed in detail on foreign policy for almost 4 years.)
Eye Communication: In this split screen we see the candidates up close and magnified. Obama looked at Romney as he talked with a directness and seriousness that was effective. Much the opposite of Biden in the Vice Presidential debate (smirk, laughing, etc.) And his eye communication was well placed to often glance at Moderator Schieffer while Romney is finishing, almost to say “I’m ready – call on me.”
Governor Romney lost in experiential terms because he lost his spark. It’s not that he was as low energy as Obama was in the first debate, but he was:
Deferential: He probably agreed with Obama a couple of dozen times, most of them stated verbally. Not what you really want in a challenger in a high stakes debate like this. Perhaps he didn’t want to confront, but it not only takes energy away, it sets a mind set for missed opportunities. Romney did not confront on the Libya mess and security lapse for openers, and perhaps a half dozen other issues.
Eye Communication: For some reason Romney rarely looked at Obama, but kept his gaze on Schieffer most of the time. Now that’s OK, but the few times he lofted an attack on Obama he should have looked directly at Obama – making it more personal and more powerful. By comparison with Obama he lacked power and directness – purely from eye communication.
The facts matter in a debate like this, but only a little in the eyes of the people (voters). On the radio results can be quite different with the audience restricted to listening to the content of speech. On the TV the words become less important and other factors take over. In this age of multi media we must present a consistent message that gives people confidence.
At the end of the day, Obama seemed confident and in control. H
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