Speakers love to talk about other speakers and so it was only natural that a group of us who hold the National Speaker’s Association‘s highest earned designation, the CSP – Certified Speaking Professional – discussed “the speech” -Obama’s inaugural address.
Words change the world
My friend, Scott McKain, eloquently pointed out how different the day would have been if Obama hadn’t spoken. He said, “The end result – the transition of power – would have been the same. However, it would have been infinitely less powerful, meaningful, and
motivating. We are a nation inspired, not because of the meeting/ceremony
that was held, but the message that was presented by a powerful speaker. Meeting professionals,” he thoughtfully added, ” should keep that in mind as they seek to slash a
budget by cutting their professional speakers.”
I love that! Words change the world (not the reception after the speaker or the pomp surrounding the event!).
Allen Klein, a delightful humor-in-the-workplace speaker, spoke of presentation mastery when he reminded us of the beautiful words of the poet, Elizabeth Alexander. He said, “Her words might be especially meaningful to speakers when she said, ‘We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.'”
It’s all about the listener
Another colleague (forgive me for not remembering who said this, and there are too many emails on the subject to reread each) talked about the difference between speeches that focus on the speaker and those that focus on the listener. When we tell stories about ourselves to anchor a point (the man who wouldn’t have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago…) to help the listener relate, understand, see more clearly, we elevate the conversation. When we simply talk about ourselves, we destroy it.
But Ian Percy, another speaker friend, Canadian by birth, and a neighbor here in Scottsdale, quoted Millie Olson’s Ad Age post. She said, about Obama, “…It’s about more than rhetoric or style. And it will affect more than politics. Barack Obama’s elevation of the public conversation signifies a renewal of respect for the people he is addressing. He doesn’t condescend, he doesn’t dumb it down. To borrow the words of a great San Francisco copywriter, it’s a ‘conversation among equals.'” Her words took my breath away and they provide a success map for every one of us who tries to influence others with our words.
“A renewal of respect… a conversation among equals.” This is presentation mastery.