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Few things will position you as a leader more than delivering a great speech.
Our coaches can help you create and deliver speeches that will inspire confidence and move audiences to action.
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Great leaders communicate in a way that connects with audiences.
We can help you find and hone your personal communication style, allowing you to inspire confidence and sell your ideas.
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For over twenty years, we have helped our clients deliver presentations that win business.
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No one knows how history will ultimately judge President Obama's recent inaugural address. But most agree that President Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961 – “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country“ -- was among the best ever.
But when JFK started in politics, he was a mediocre speaker. By looking at how he grew into a great speaker, we can all learn to connect better with our audiences.
Work Is More Important than Being Gifted
I’m often asked whether it is possible to develop into a great speaker: whether you must be “born with it.” But JFK developed into a great speaker over time with lots of practice.
Kennedy’s political career started in 1946 when he ran for Congress in Boston. He was a poor speaker, according to Robert Caro, writing in his book “The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power.” The fantastic book deals with the relationship between Johnson and Kennedy. Describing a speech during that first campaign, Caro wrote:
His early speeches all seemed to be, a biographer has written, “both mediocre and humorless . . . read from a prepared text with all the insecurity of a novice, in a voice “tensely high-pitched” and “with a quality of grave seriousness that masked his discomfiture . . . He seemed to be just a trifle embarrassed on stage.” Once, afraid he was going to forget his speech, his sister Eunice mouth the words at him from the audience as he spoke.
Of course, when you’re giving dozens of speeches during a political campaign, you improve. That’s what happened with JFK.
How to become a great speaker? Practice.
Learn to Play Up Your Strengths
Sometimes the key to improvement as a speaker is to play to your strengths. JFK had a gift for witty comments. Caro describes how, even before he was accomplished as a speaker, JFK occasionally flashed what would become his trademark wit.
At one forum in which all the candidates spoke, the master of ceremonies, no friend to Kennedy and eager to emphasize that he was a rich man’s son, made a point of introducing each of the others as a “young fellow who came up the hard way.” Then was Kennedy’s turn. “I seem to be the only person here tonight who didn’t come up the hard way, “ he said – and suddenly there was a grin and the audience roared with laughter . . .
Today, in addition to his inaugural speech, Kennedy is perhaps most famous for his self-deprecating wit. Check out his press conferences on YouTube.
The lesson is that we should focus on our strengths as speakers. Some people are great at Q&A. Others thrive with story telling. Still others know how to coin a clever phrase. Follow Kennedy’s lead. Develop and emphasize your strength.
Walk in with Power
Another Kennedy lesson is to enter a room with confidence. For most of his life, Addison’s disease and back problems dogged Kennedy. He often looked sickly. He was often in pain. But, Caro recounts, when he came into the room, he put away his crutches and strode in with a big smile as if he felt great.
We urge our clients to walk into the room “wearing boots and spurs.” You want to look excited and eager to connect with the audience.
Even if you never give an inaugural address, you want to look like you could.
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Read Joey Asher’s article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle, ‘Keys to the Falcons’ Stadium commission.
Atlanta will soon be the site of a $1 billion "bake off." I'm referring to the competition to win one of the biggest architectural commissions in Georgia history—a new stadium for the Falcons...
Read Joey Asher's The Daily Report Column
Scheller College of Business students all take Speechworks' class as part of their MBA program.
Learning By Doing
At Speechworks we believe that people learn best by doing. Our workshops are designed around the principle that each person should be involved in every aspect of learning. Our Open Enrollment programs focus on the most common communication skills challenges, presenting to audiences and speaking in meetings.
The Executive Speaker Workshop
During this workshop, you will learn how to exert influence in a variety of settings, from formal presentations, to one-on-one, or to large group meetings. Combines The Persuasive Speaker and The Impromptu Speaker workshops into a single program with on-camera presenting and role-playing.
2014 Dates: June 18-19, August 13-14, October 15-16, December 10-11
The Impromptu Speaker WorkshopLearn how to communicate confidently and sell ideas in impromptu settings including group meetings, one-on-one meetings, and during Q&A sessions. You will also develop a personal style that builds personal and business relationships.2014 Dates: July 17
The Persuasive Speaker Workshop
Improve your public speaking skills in this intensive one-day program through video sessions and individualized coaching. Learn to organize your information and deliver it with confidence and credibility, whether speaking to individuals or to small or large groups.
2014 Dates: May 16, July 18, September 19, November 14
The Non-Native Speaker WorkshopPublic speaking is hard enough. Delivering presentations when English is not your native language is particularly difficult. In The Non-Native Speaker on-camera workshop, you will learn how to create and deliver presentations with confidence. 2014 Dates: September 25-26
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Since 1986, Speechworks has been coaching America’s top businesspeople to communicate in a way that connects with listeners, sells ideas, and inspires confidence. Let our coaches help you develop a communication style that inspires confidence.