As the founder of a revolutionary presentation skills training and development business our mission is very clear; we exist to:
‘Help professionals make the leap from simply sharing information and achieving an intellectual understanding to also creating a memorable emotional connection which inspires action.’
To achieve our objective we know that at the heart of the long and arduous challenge the key to our success is mindfulness. That of course leads straight to the question we are asked every day; what place does mindfulness have in presenting and public speaking.
As we share on our website we believe that to present mindfully you need to:
- Be fully present
- Identify and understand your communication style and habits
- Know exactly what works and doesn’t work for you personally as well as your audience
- Put yourself in your audiences shoes
- Craft a clear and powerful strategy
- Challenge the status quo and stand out for all of the right reasons
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited a Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last week to participate and speak on the subject of gun violence.
A few weeks before that she spoke in Miami, Florida at what is known in American political campaigning as ‘Super Tuesday’.
In two completely different speaking forums with strikingly contrasting tones I believe that we saw much of what we have described as Mindful Presenting.
At the Baptist Church in Milwaukee without the use of a lectern, notes slides or script Hillary Clinton opened by saying:
“This church is in a Zip code that has seen too many lost lives. The epidemic of gun violence spares no one but it is concentrated in areas that are short on hope …”
The premise of ‘hope’ was a mindful way to begin her speech given that according to The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission homicide is reported as the leading cause of death among 15-24 year old males in Milwaukee.
In a Baptist church surrounded by a community of people who were no strangers to the tragic effects of gun violence and in a country where it’s sadly become a regular global news feature Hillary Clinton made a point of impact which could not be disregarded.
“We lose, on average, 90 people a day from gun violence; that is 33,000 people a year. If anything else, a disease were killing 33,000 Americans a year, we would come together and say ‘How do we deal with this?”
Mindful presenting isn’t just about the words that come out of your mouth and their relevance and value to your audience, it’s much more than that as Senator Clinton so eloquently demonstrated.
This poignant address on such a topical and vital issue warranted words which resonated with the audience but delivered in way which would capture their hearts as well as their minds.
On this occasion the demonstration of mindfulness in this speech was manifested in:
- The sincerity in her pitch, tone and pace of voice
- Timely pauses allowing the significance of the point to be absorbed
- The calmness and conversational control of her words
- The congruence of her facial expressions
- The powerful and poignant use of stories and examples
- The well positioned use of facts and statistics
- The considered use of eye contact engaging the whole room
- The expression of empathy throughout every aspect of her speech
- The authoritative and compelling expression of anger without raising her voice
- The thoughtful and eloquent way of answering questions
I could offer many more salient points demonstrating Senator Clinton’s mindful delivery of such an important speech which meant so much to a community but you may wish to watch the talk for yourself and make up your own mind.
The power of Contrast
A few weeks prior to that event Hillary Clinton showed us the other side of her speaking prowess which we have seen so many times before and which has clearly served as a significant asset in her presidential campaign.
‘Super Tuesday’ called for an entirely different approach, tone and demeanor yet equally important its mindfulness in terms of objective, intent and respect to the audience.
Despite my very limited knowledge of American politics I believe that ‘Super Tuesday’ is hugely important because it is one of the last chances for the candidates to change the path of the election.
With that in mind the way you begin your speech is of course of even more importance and what better way to start than by politely yet powerfully using one of your own opponents saying against himself to support your own campaign.
“America prospers when we all prosper. America is strong when we’re all strong.
And we know we’ve got work to do. But, that work, that work is not to make America great again. America never stopped being great. We have to make America whole. We have to fill in what’s been hollowed out.”
It doesn’t end there of course as when you clearly feel that your opponents campaign is believed to be seen as a little divisive, being mindful of the disharmony and damage that may cause Hillary Clinton went on to say:
“I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.”
Love and kindness are not two words that you would normally associate with any form of politics so to hear a presidential candidate using them in the same sentence at the time when there is a slight sense of political divide sounds like a thoughtful plea to make.
As I mentioned before though, words are critically important but they can never stand alone. The manner in which you deliver your message in a completely different setting to a disparate audience takes a great deal of thought and work.
Whilst the audience and message may be different the one thing that has to remain consistent is the speaker’s integrity and authenticity.
On this occasion the demonstration of mindfulness in this speech was manifested in:
– The energy and passion in her pitch, tone and pace of voice
– The bold, expressive and animated use of hand gestures
– A wide, genuine and consistent smile of excitement
– The strong emphasis of key words of personal importance to the audience
– The open expression of thanks and gratitude
– The enthusiastic use of eye contact engaging the whole room
– Timely pauses allowing the significance of the point to be absorbed
– The congruence of her facial expressions
– The powerful use of stories and examples
Once again I could offer many more thoughts on Senator Clinton’s mindful delivery of such an important speech at a critical time in her campaign but you may like to watch it and make your own mind up.
The stark contrast of Donald Trump
As I have mentioned before, I have no strong interest in politics and certainly have no personal agenda or political bias when it comes to the American Presidential Campaign.
I do however have an insatiable interest in what I believe is the art and science of public speaking. Last summer I wrote an article about Donald Trump’s oratory skills offering him a few tips to help him along his campaign; 8 Presentation Tips for Donald Trump. http://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/8-presentation-tips-for-donald-trump/
At the time I didn’t imagine for a moment of course that he would read it but nevertheless I’m still disappointed that he clearly hasn’t.
In clear contrast to my perception of Senator Clintons speaking skills as I’ve shared in this article when it comes to Donald Trump I think he still has a very long way to go in terms of ‘mindful presenting’.
Watching his ‘Super Tuesday’ press conference it seems to me that not much has changed since the article I last wrote about him. In this particular address my view is that Donald Trump’s presentation lacks mindfulness because:
- It seems to me to be largely about him and his ego
- When it’s not about him it’s about just how bad his opponents are
I am aware of course that some will argue that Donald Trump presents his campaign in the way he does because he is completely mindful of his approach and goals.
That may well be true, but even if it is I’m convinced that if he were to be more conscious of his content and delivery he would make a far more appealing presidential candidate purely in terms of his public speaking skills.
I’m also aware that in terms of our mission as a business some people may well also say that Mr Trump is indeed creating a ‘memorable emotional connection which inspires action.’
That too may also be true although for me the question is where does that action lead?
Arguably Mr Trump is also ‘challenging the status quo’ but some may ask; is he doing it for the right reasons?
In the meantime, purely in terms of what I regard as ‘mindful presenting’ Hillary Clinton gets my vote.
You may want to watch the video for yourself to see what you think.
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Image: Courtesy of flickr.com