Tagged: speeches

Wednesday Word: He Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.

Musical Muse: “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg


May I share a Wednesday Word with you?

More to the point, I’d like to share some words of advice: Don’t beg for pity applause. Never, ever implore your audience to applaud for you, on command, at any point during a speech or a presentation.

At times, we may have desired a certain response or result so badly that we resort to begging. We’re only human, so I won’t judge–unless you’re begging your audience to applaud for you.

Which is exactly what I just watched Jeb Bush do at a New Hampshire town hall event earlier today. (Hat tip to Steve Benen at The MaddowBlog.)

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Wednesday Word: Don’t Wing It.

Today’s Wednesday Word is a word of advice.

If you have to deliver a speech or a presentation–no matter how big or small–please know what you’re going to say. Don’t wing it.

Or you may end up like Governor John Kasich of Ohio–a smart man who nevertheless decided that the best way to  announce his presidential run would be to opt against a prepared text, and instead speak more or less “off the cuff” for 43 minutes.

That is not a practice to emulate.

Courtesy C-SPAN

I understand the impulse to “ditch the script.” People in the spotlight–particularly politicians–seem so scripted. Even “Reality TV” follows a script. Audiences hunger for genuine people who will speak truthfully from the heart, and speakers want to be able to deliver.

But use of a prepared speech isn’t a signal to the audience that the speaker is fake and insincere. The prepared speech is a guide for the speaker, and to the speaker’s audience as well.

A prepared speech is like road directions: it tells you where you need to go without veering off on every side road that may look interesting. Similarly, a prepared speech helps you make the points you want to make, while making sure the audience can follow the ideas you wish to express. Simply going off the cuff in order to seem more authentic is not only a less than ideal way persuade or inform an audience, but also itself can be seen as a ploy.

So when you have to deliver a speech or presentation, know what you’re going to do. “Going with your gut” is neither a game plan nor a genuine way to connect with your audience. Plan and practice what you will say.

Don’t wing it.

And that’s your Wednesday Word.

Wednesday Word: Editing in a Hurry? Disrupt Familiarity.

Today’s Wednesday Word is a quick hit.

Pressed for time, but need to edit a letter, talking points or a presentation?

First, slow down and be calm. You have more time than you think. Even say to yourself, Breathe and find your focus if you must.

Now you’re ready to take action. Print your work. Take it to another office, focus/quiet room or conference room. Then read aloud, starting from the end of the piece, and work to the beginning.

Yes. I absolutely thought I read the first line as "The quick brown" at first. Photo by volkspider

Familiarity can breed errors: I’ll admit it–I initially read the first line as “The quick brown.”
Photo by volkspider

Sometimes, familiarity can breed errors. After working on a piece for a while, our eyes may skip over what is actually written. We become so familiar with our stories and what we are attempting to express that we may miss glaring errors. “Disrupting” your flow of thoughts by changing your surroundings and reading your work “out of order” is an excellent way to weed out the mistakes in your work that you may miss otherwise.

Ideally, we should let our work products “sit” for a day so we can review it with fresh eyes, but sometimes we don’t have that luxury. Keep this tactic in your back pocket for those times.

Have I had to take my own advise advice over the years? Over the past few days? Yes, I have.

So the next time you have to edit in a hurry–pause. Find another space to do your editing. Then start to read from the end of your work to the beginning. You may be surprised by what you find.

And that’s your Wednesday Word.

First Lady Michelle Obama: Rising Above the Noise.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently delivered a deeply moving commencement address at Tuskegee University.

The First Lady certainly would understand if you missed it. After all, she delivered the address on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. As “Mom-in-Chief,” I think she would give you a pass.

That said–her address is excellent. Read the transcript, or watch below.

Courtesy of tuskegeevirtual

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Jackie Robinson: Willing to Fight for It.


Courtesy of MLB.com

I believe in the human race. I believe in the warm heart. I believe in man’s integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it — and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.

Free Minds and Free Hearts Work, Robinson’s 1952 recorded essay for the Edward R. Murrow’s radio series, “This I Believe.”

Most Americans think of April 15 as Tax Day. And of course, many of us were indeed busy with taxes on that day–and on that night. But it was “Jackie Robinson Day” in the world of Major League Baseball; a day to honor a man who fought to desegregate American life by desegregating one of America’s greatest pastimes.

He played ball, but he knew it was more than a game.

Since baseball season is in the swing of things in earnest, I decided to post Jackie Robinson’s Hall of Fame speech upon his induction in 1962.

Some games are bigger than the score.

Courtesy of MLB.com

J.K. Rowling: Benefiting from Failure.

We end Women’s History Month with a speech by author J.K. Rowling about “failure.”

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. –J.K. Rowling

Courtesy of Harvard Magazine

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Success Can Wear Lip Gloss, Too: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Courtesy of Ted Talks/TEDxEuston

The second of today’s blog posts features the famous speech, We Should All Be Feminists, delivered by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The talk, delivered in 2013, encourages us to think and talk about gender issues. And of course, the speech garnered one of the world’s biggest name checks by Beyoncé, who used a sample of it in her song, “Flawless.”

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.’ Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important.

Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors – not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

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Senator Snowball: The Perils of Using Poor Props.

Now, a few words about using props. Or more to the point–a few words about how not to use them.

Last week had its share of silly stories: llamas on the loose, colorblind users on social media–and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma lobbing a snowball within the chambers of the U.S. Senate in an attempt to cast doubt on climate change.

Yes, He brought a snowball to a legislative fight. Continue reading

Speeches by a Most “Dangerous” Leader

We end Black History Month with a few speeches from a most “dangerous” leader: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some may find it hard to believe that the oft-quoted Dr. King–with his holiday and national memorial, as well as streets and schools named in his honor–was ever considered to be dangerous. The FBI thought otherwise. Alarmed by the increasing stature he won after delivering the I Have a Dream Speech, the FBI’s surveillance of Dr. King sped into overdrive.

Yes. The very speech that is now so familiar to so many.

The power of the “I Have a Dream” speech, however, was that it was built, in part, on the solid foundation of outstanding speeches and oratory before it. So read or listen to his 1955 Address to the Montgomery Improvement Association and his 1957 “Give Us the Ballot,” speech at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom (an event held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.): lesser known speeches that no doubt helped build Dr. King’s stature.

Also be sure to read the Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March, ahead of President Obama’s visit to Selma, AL next week to mark the 50th Anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march.

Words most certainly have power.