Last night, as I watched President Obama speak, I wondered what McCain’s thoughts were about the speech. I wondered how different the speeches would have been had McCain been speaking rather than Obama (Obama is clearly a much more gifted speaker). Then I received an email with some wise words from a professional speaker friend of mine – Scott McKain. Below is what Scott had to say about yesterday’s speech:
Today’s historic inauguration of Barack Obama was a watershed event in our nation’s long list of memorable and significant dates. However, consider for moment if this slight change would have occurred –
The prayers are said, the oath is administered, the transition of power completed. Then, no address by the new, and eloquent, President. No chance for him to inspire, no opportunity for us to be uplifted.
Without the remarkable presentation by Obama, the bottom line would have still been the same — the transition from one administration to another. Yet, somehow, it would have been infinitely less compelling…devoid of the power and emotion that is going to be required to turn our nation around.
NOW — imagine your next meeting without its customary professional speaker.
When times get tough, it’s easy to slice the budget by cutting the speaker. However, your next meeting could flat and boring — as today would have been without the address that gave meaning and emotion to the transaction of business the ceremony represents, and Constitution requires.
It’s going to take wise decisions, extraordinary strategy, and plain hard work to turn this nation — and your business — around. However, I promise you that none of those will occur without framing that message in a compelling manner that moves people.
I think Scott was dead on. Click here to read more from Scott McKain. NOTE: Scott has a new book coming out that looks great. I really respect Scott and think his book will offer some interesting points of discussion. It’s called The Collapse of Distinction. Check it out and let me know what you think.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there are lot of my professional speakers commenting on speeches, poems, and other communication yesterday. Jim Jacobus wrote about the difference between Obama’s inaugural speech and Bush’s welcome home speech.
I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between Obama’s inaugural speech and Bush’s welcome home speech in Midland, Texas yesterday afternoon. I should start by saying I like former president Bush and think he is a good man. I would follow that by adding he has had, beginning with 9/11, some very difficult decisions on his watch. But, I find his term of office sadly lacking from a leadership and decision making point of view. Note here that if I had to characterize my belief systems I would be considered a conservative. That said, I think both sides have points of clarity about how we should govern and be governed and both sides have
indefensible positions of insanity at the same time! What I loathe is the lack of respect for each other and specifically the lack of respect shown over the last 8 years for the office of the presidency and the man who held that office.
As Ron White said … I told you all of that to tell you this! I like Obama! Iagree with many of his positions and some I disagree with. But, I really like him! He is a very likeable person! I started asking myself a few months ago what it is that makes him so likeable for me and obviously many others! And yesterday, watching him speak and Bush speak … it came to me! It was obvious and I think it carries a lesson for us as communicators!
When Obama speaks it is about us and not about him. All of us! He is a master of inclusive language skills, words and phrases that positions him as talking “with us” not “at us”! Bush, on the other hand, spoke in Midland yesterday and it was all about him! He was funny and clever and as demonstrative as I have seen him as he defended his record. Nonetheless, it was all about him. He was not abrasive but neither was he inclusive. It was as if he was “schooling us” and we were positioned beneath him and his wisdom. He was talking at me not with me and I didn’t like the way it felt!
Through the years I have noticed the same about the speakers I have observed at NSA and other venues where people are communicating to groups. I have seen scores of great communicators who have compelled me and even vigorously challenged me but did it as Obama did yesterday … in an inclusive manner by
talking with me! They have compelled me and shaped my career in countless ways! And, I have seen more than I care to mention or number on the stages and breakout sessions of NSA who spoke at me as if I were somehow less than they were and in need of their “schooling”. Their messages may have been brilliant and I hope I was still able to take their ideas and utilize them but they left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
We all have a choice in how we position our messages to our audiences. As for me, I hope I am inclusive in my language and connect with those I am privileged to stand before much like I felt President Obama did yesterday! He is now the president of these United States and I will respectfully support the office he holds both when I agree with his decisions as well as when I disagree!
Tim Richardson is an inspirational speaker who speaks about how giving increases employee morale, lowers employee turnover, increases customer loyalty and creates higher profits for Fortune 500 companies, associations, healthcare, and financial services. He is founder of the Bill Walter Melanoma Research Fund. For more information on Tim, go to www.TimRichardson.com