Saturday, August 25, 2012

Speech Watch

As an adjunct professor at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Calif., I assigned and encouraged my students to watch, listen to and dissect speeches. This was all directed toward their ending the semester by writing and delivering their own speeches.

A well-written speech will have a clear beginning and end and expert use of what I call “internal summary.” A speech carefully crafted is a work of art.

Regardless of your party affiliation, this week’s Republican Convention provides an excellent opportunity to see and hear some outstanding speakers. In a presidential convention the speeches and speaker messages should support the party platform.

The line up of 34+ speakers for the Republican convention is impressive with the appearances across four nights, although due to limited network TV coverage the public will only be able to view them Tuesday through Thursday and then only one hour each night. FOX News coverage seems like it will be more extensive and programming can be verified through

Already commentators are reflecting on what the superb lineup of speakers will reveal. Today, Peggy Noonan in her Wall Street Journal column speculated on what we can expect from some of the speakers. She hopes “That Gov. Chris Christie brings his Garden State brio, that he is bodacious, funny and pointed, and that people say the next day, “Man, Obama-Christie really opened up a can of  Jersey on him.”

Noonan also muses that Paul Ryan is young and since the voters have already “had a bad experience with young” that his writers anticipating that will craft his speech to brand the positives of being only 42!

So with such an impressive line up, here are my picks of who to watch or at least listen to.  Monday: John Sununu and Mike Huckabee; Tuesday: Chris Christie, Susana Martinez, Ann Romney and Bobby Jindal; Wednesday: Pam Bondi, Jeb Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Ryan; Thursday: Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney. (This line up may shift depending on Hurricane Isaac which, as I write, is barreling toward Puerto Rico.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Enthusiasm + Joy = Great Communication

Support her husband or not, you can’t dispute that Ann Romney’s style is infectious. Watch any of her interviews, and whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, you’ll probably be impressed with her enthusiasm, intelligence and fearless engagement of the interviewing process.

Dealing effectively with the media in an often hostile and confrontational environment takes some skill, and she is darn good at conveying her message and ably navigating around tricky situations. There’s just no hesitancy about Ann Romney!

On Aug. 12 the 2012 summer Olympic Games came to a close, and the word “enthusiastic” describes so many of the gold medal winners. 17-year-old swimming prodigy and multi- Olympic Gold Medal winner Missy Franklin consistently conveyed pure joy and an infectious smile with each win. She was enthusiastic about every event, her energy abundant from beginning to end.

Women’s beach volleyball, a relatively new Olympic sport, has gained a devoted and wildly supportive fan base. I doubt there’s a more enthusiastic player than Kerri Walsh-Jennings who, with her partner Misty May-Treanor, took home a third Olympic gold medal. All six feet, two inches of Kerri is a powerhouse: relentlessly optimistic, positive, joyful and uplifting!

Silicon Valley guru Guy Kawasaki, in his book Reality Check, finishes the last chapter with a list of ten things to remember. Number two is “pursue joy, not happiness.” He concludes that it’s probably the hardest lesson of all to learn because “happiness is temporary and fleeting……Joy, by contrast is unpredictable and intense. It comes from pursuing interests and passions that do not obviously result in happiness.”

Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel, teaches that “A good communicator’s energy is perceived as ‘life force,’ vitality: an aliveness and vigor exemplified at its best by very good communicators like John F. Kennedy.” And I would add Bill Clinton.  Project enthusiasm and most so-called speech problems clear up automatically.

On Aug. 11 Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan as his choice for the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party. Ryan is a package of enthusiasm, energy and a real joyfulness.

If you watched closely after Ryan was introduced, you would have seen him descending the stairs and striding purposefully to the podium. On instant replay you can watch his body pulling up into a tighter stance, giving the impression of a man growing taller and expanding to fill his space. In those minutes he became physically and mentally engaged while soaking up the energy of the crowd of well-wishers and obviously loving every minute. Sorry, I can’t remember what he said; but his enthusiasm for the task ahead of him was a strong and lasting visual!