In this week's NYT, Michael Shear and Ashley Parker describe how Mitt Romney's speaking got much better once he stepped away from the lecturn:
When Mitt Romney crammed for the Republican presidential debates four years ago, he went all out: The campaign built a stage with four lecterns and used senior staff as stand-ins for his rivals, John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani...
This month, when Mr. Romney prepared for his seventh debate of the 2012 campaign, at Dartmouth College, there were no lecterns. No one playing Rick Perry or Herman Cain...Mr. Romney and a few aides simply sat around a small table at the Hanover Inn in New Hampshire and batted around topics in the news.
The result was markedly different. Four years ago, Mr. Romney responded to a debate question about the Iraq war by lapsing into consultant-speak. “The question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will, and what I mean by that — or a null set,” he said.
At a recent debate, he gave short snappy answers — “nice try!” — as he delivered another in a string of largely successful debate performances.From the Green Room: Whenever possible, step away from the podium. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your speaking. By removing this physical barrier, you are more likely to speak naturally and succinctly - and to speak directly to your audience.
And even if you need to speak with a lectern, take a lesson from Romney and practice without the podium.