Ever wonder what makes a president a great speaker? Why do they orate a cut above the rest of us? We know that presidents are masters of inspiration. One look at a list of presidential quotes proves their talents to persuade, engage and urge the people to accomplish great feats. Hopeful leaders go so far as to peruse the president's reading list to glean leadership tips and techniques. Clearly, we look to these leaders for guidance .
This Presidents Day, why not take speech writing lessons from past presidents? After all, creating a powerful speech is a large part of the presidential job description. They have to connect with a rather large audience--the entire country.
Let's learn 3 tips from past commanders-in-chief and make your own public speaking presidential.
Defy Conventions: Keep It Short
Abraham Lincoln gave one of the shortest and most memorable speeches of all time with only 272 words.
Do you recall learning about the man who spoke before Lincoln? Does the name Edward Everett ring a bell? Probably not (despite the two-hour speech he gave before Lincoln's address). By defying convention and opting for brevity, Lincoln accomplished in two minutes what Everett failed to do in two hours.
In your next speech, think like Lincoln. Don't be afraid to cut until your speech to convey your message--and nothing more. Ask yourself what is the most important message for the audience to understand before they leave. And, then cut, cut, cut.
Editing out extra content allows your audience to absorb your message before they're absorbed by their smart phones.
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Franklin D. Roosevelt gave an address to the nation in a completely new way with his broadcasted radio addresses, called fireside chats. These evening radio conversations went directly to the homes of millions of Americans.
By talking to the American people as if they were friends and family, Roosevelt was able to explain his policies, debunk rumors and comfort citizens in uncertain times.
How can we apply Roosevelt's ideas to our own speeches? By adapting his mindset. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy refers to the ability to display strength and warmth as the skill to "connect, then lead."
People trust people, not businesses or corporations. Roosevelt's fireside chats took the nation by storm because they could connect to the authentic and warm voice of a real person.
Take a leaf out of Roosevelt's book and level with your audience.
Find Your Message
Agree or disagree with his policies, there's no denying that President Obama has a way with words. His characteristic pauses convey an intelligent, thoughtful and measured man. He even transformed the fireside chats into an active Twitter feed.
Obama has a knack for getting to the heart of his message. The speeches made during his presidency honed in on the one main idea. There was no confusing the objective of his speeches.
We can take a cue from Obama and make your elevator pitch 140 characters--the size of a Tweet. This difficult task is a great way to get clarity on your message. Identify the main point of your speech and focus on making your message clear.
Use this Presidents Day to reflect back on the passionate leaders that have passed through the office's ranks.
Take these tips and make your speeches memorable. But whatever you do...be a Lincoln--not an Everett.