Monday, July 26, 2004

How Come? 

The Democratic convention started tonight in Boston, and I've had but a glimpse of it.  However, that fleeting view raised a question for which there is no answer. 

How come politicians, for whom public speaking is a necessity, still cannot speak well? 

I saw a speaker, who shall remain nameless, step on applause lines, get lost in text and otherwise betray an unfamiliarity with a speech that this person must have practiced several times.  Puh-lease.  I might forgive a CEO for not speaking well, but a politician gets to office on an ability to connect with audiences. 

Where are speech trainers when you need them?

Public speaking is something every senior executive should be able to do, and it is sad how few can.  Of US CEOs I have heard recently, only one was compelling. That was Jeff Immelt of General Electric.  He said he knew one speech, but it's good, and he kept his audience. 

Other CEOs I have heard are earnest but unconvincing.  It might be something in the timbre of their voices, their speed, the topics they discuss or phrases they use, but they don't come off. 

Speaking shouldn't be that hard, but for many executives, it is.  I suspect few US executives were ever formally trained in speaking -- and it shows.


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