Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Clinton Global Initiative

Not running for president or in training to be a world leader? That’s okay, but you probably still need to know how to create a speech and deliver it. 

Early in my career I was hired by a company to train its employees on making effective presentations. When that assignment was completed, I was enlisted to help the company’s CEO flush out ideas for a major speech he was giving to senior staff in the international offices and to coach him on his delivery skills. 

I worked to help him accomplish what I refer to as a “brain dump,” which is the first step in creating a speech. He didn’t want to use a speech writer, as he preferred writing it himself but needed help getting started isolating and expanding his ideas. He knew the presentation message had to be relevant to his audience and he had to deliver it with impact.

I guarantee you will sometime in your career face a similar challenge: to influence and inspire people. Given that strong possibility, I suggest you listen up because now are some of the best opportunities, until 2016, to see the Democrats and Republicans delivering speeches non-stop. 

The best speeches happen when the deliverer gets involved, so I was not surprised when I read that Bill Clinton was making changes to his nominating speech right up until a day before delivery time.

Clinton clearly knew what he wanted to accomplish, and the text changes needed to complete the task were developing on a daily basis. His unstated goal was to change the way the undecided in the audience thought about Barack Obama and to act on it – cast a vote for Barack Obama for president. 

I have nicknamed Bill Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention the “Now Listen to Me”speech. He was teacher, parent and philosopher as he implored the audience in the hall and those watching at home to hang on while he made his points.

Why was the speech successful and so well received? Clinton became a storyteller harkening back to the Greek slave Aesop, who would tell a story and then suggest what should be done. Clinton cleverly accomplished the same kind of storytelling through the use of dialogue: us vs. them themes; repetition/stickiness through “Listen to me, now”; and folksy rhetoric like “I’m fixing to tell you why” or personal appeals such as “You all got to listen carefully to this; this is really important” and “Folks, this is really serious.”

Clinton time and again implored us to personally engage with him: to hang on while he made his points. As I listened, fully aware of the techniques he was using, I found myself getting engaged with him and eager to hear more. His rhetoric, facial expressions and overall impish body language and real schtick like “I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside but who burns for America on the inside” seduced me. 

Clinton’s message was compelling and his delivery was masterful. And yes, he went on too long, as he is famous for doing. But he got my attention; he just worked it a little too long.

Founded by Bill Clinton in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting serves many purposes:  this year it coincides with the UN General Assembly meetings so many world leaders, business leaders and politicians will be attending. A few of an impressive list of speakers and panelists expected are Secretary of State Hilary Clinton; Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank; Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential Candidate; President Barack Obama; CEO of  IDEOTim Brown; and Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke. 

The focus is definitely not political, so it will be interesting to read the speeches that will focus on major world issues like poverty, healthcare, philanthropy and female empowerment. The CGI theme this year is “Designing for Impact.”

Already Hillary Clinton has weighed in on this year’s theme by advancing an argument that the rich must pay more, and she has cleverly framed a worldview by expanding on an internal debate in the US: “There are rich people around the world, but they do not contribute to the growth of their own country.” Expect all the speeches and panels to contribute to or develop the “Making an Impact” theme at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative.

No comments:

Post a Comment