Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lesson from a Fifth Grader: Be Concrete

And now... the 2011 Winner of the Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition:
5th Grader Elijah English:

Each participant in the contest had to answer the following question: How will I carry forward the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?

In addition to his remarkable speaking skills, I imagine that one of the reasons why Elijah's speech won first place was because he was able to give the audience a concrete answer to this abstract question about legacy.

Elijah's story of showing his report card to his dying grandfather painted a powerful picture of what it means to learn from those who came before us.

From the Green Room: Use concrete language to make your point. The audience always remembers concrete details over abstract messages.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lesson from a Fifth Grader on MLK Day

Watch this CBS interview with the 2010 winners of the Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition:

When the interviewer asks Tamia what the victory means to her. She responds:

"It means that I worked really hard, and that I can achieve my dreams as long as I work hard."

Rodriguez asks, "How hard did you work?"

"Every night, every day, 24 hours, just straight on the line."

What inspires a child to work this hard at something? If I had to guess, I would imagine that key to her determination is a powerful faith in herself.

What better lesson to learn on MLK Day?

From the Green Room: There is simply no substitute for practice and hard work. But as you practice, do not lose sight of what ultimately will be the key to your success: your belief in yourself.

Here is Tamia's winning speech:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be Generous

This is a great time of year to talk about generosity - one of the most powerful qualities a speaker can possess.

How do you feel when someone tries to sell you something?

At best, you may feel compelled to buy it.
At worst, you may feel manipulated, annoyed, and even violated.
But you almost never feel a true sense of connection with the seller.

Now, how do you feel when someone gives you a gift?

At worst, you may feel disappointed not to have gotten something better.
At best, you feel terrific.
And almost always, you feel grateful.

From the Green Room: Speak with generosity. Remember you are giving the audience a gift - not making a sales pitch. This subtle change in attitude makes can make enormous difference in how you approach your audience - and in how you are received.