Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorable speech vs Blah-blah-blah

The ‘Tortoise Attacks Cat’ story keeps coming back to me. It’s like Aesop’s Fable of ‘The Tortoise & the Hare’ come to life. It also illustrates an underlying theme of this blog – how executives and other organizational leaders aren’t necessarily better speakers than ‘less notable’ individuals. In fact, quite the opposite may be true.

Take commencement addresses, for example. Over the weekend C-Span broadcast a few, including one presented by Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond MD at tiny Wheelock College and another by the head of a major corporation speaking at a major university. What a contrast! The former was full of emotion and originality. The latter was full of corporate stats and virtually every bromide ever uttered at a commencement ceremony.

It only reaffirms what I said about speakers who want to appear always calm and in control. (See Nervousness. No one feels this need more than the highly placed. As a result, no one is more capable of inducing boredom in an audience.

Individuals who find themselves on the same program as the CEO may feel like the tortoise up against the hare. Yet their willingness to make an effort like the tortoise did and their willingness to think about the audience more than themselves can help them win the prize – the communication and acceptance of their message.


Of course, everyone these days wants to stand out – like the couple planning to hold their wedding reception at the local zoo. I just hope they’re not too close to the big cats when they do the chicken dance!


For more basics, see Writing for the Ear: a Primer in the left-hand column.


Gay said...

Mike - I found your blog -- and liked the insights on speechwriting. I write for the CEO of Summa and am always looking for advice. Hope you are enjoying your regained freedom as a freelancer these days!!

Mike said...

Thanks, Gay, but I think you can give me as much advice as I can give you. Terrific website you've got.

John Ettorre said...

Good for you, Mike, getting comments already! Most of us had to fill our blogs with writing for literally months before the first reader tentatively ventured into commenting. You're on a faster track. And you're right about Gay's website (and her background). Very impressive. Glad to learn about yet another talented pro in our field, in our backyard.

Mike said...

John, I have no doubt it was the plug you gave me in your blog that attracted the attention.

Bald Eagle said...

Mike (pardon me for using formal nomenclature here - I want to fit in with the professionalism of this blog), I really enjoyed your most recent post: excellent turns of phrase, word choice (love the use of "bromide"), and very insightful points throughout.

Furthermore, the power of nervousness jives with my own experience as a speaker. As they might say in athletics, you can coach the finer points, but you cannot teach energy. Same goes for public speaking. Kudos to you for putting your typing fingers on the supreme secret of public speaking.

- Michael H. Q.