Electric Impulse Communications, Inc. Newsletter

June 2002

This newsletter will evaluate an internationally known speaker. You have probably heard the axiom that there are three subjects that you should never talk about in business. One of them is politics. (Keep reading for the other two) If politics is to be avoided . . . What about politicians? They are probably also to be avoided . . . as a topic of conversation, unless you want to observe and learn from their presentation skills.

So it is with observing and learning-NOT POLITICS-in mind, that I would like to share with you some thoughts on Benjamin Netanyahu's presentation style.

I had the opportunity to hear this former and perhaps future Prime Minister of Israel, address an audience at The University of Ashland.

Having this opportunity to see and hear a former head of state is a valuable life-lesson and I wanted to share my observations with you.
I have learned other life-lessons firsthand from observing politicians:
Ronald Reagan-BROWN can be a power color
Michael Dukakis-some people need to wear shoulder pads
Charles Robb-you can't bore your audience to death

So let's evaluate his effectiveness, NOT HIS POLITICS when Netanyahu addressed an audience of 600 on May 2, 2002.

Pre Podium Presence
Dinner was served before the speech. As I saw no head table I was curious as to where he was seated. I observed him sitting at a table in the middle of the room. Convinced I was his peer and therefore could approach him during dinner, I waived over one of the Secret Service talking-into-your lapel type guys. (I was afraid I might get shot if I just approached him without permission!)

To my surprise, I was waived through the security men and went to directly to his seat. I put my hand out and introduced myself.
He did not stand up.We talked for a few minutes; he patiently answered my questions. However, the circumstance was awkward because he was seated and I was standing. It is the speaker's responsibility to make an audience member feel at ease. The responsibility for the successful communication of a message is always with the speaker, not the audience. I realized later that the governor was sitting underneath my elbow. He did not introduce himself, he did not act like the "host."

Lesson learned . . . you will be evaluated before you formally speak. People may be evaluating you in the parking lot, on the elevator, at the dinner table BEFORE you tell your story. That impression may last longer than your message. Seize every opportunity to be perceived as the "host."

Podium presence
We repeatedly say there are three things and only three things that you can control in the world of presentation skills: you, your message, and your environment (to a degree). When you control these three -- you control everything. Netanyahu controlled himself: very determined, steady, relentless in his determination. He controlled his message: terrorism must be stopped now. By controlling himself and his message he greatly controlled his environment. Through references of experiences as a soldier, a head of state, and an author he communicated clearly.  Using no written notes, he controlled his environment. I saw no one fidget, talk, or get up to go to the bathroom.

Lesson learned . . . concentrate your time and effort on the three things you control rather than the 300 things you cannot control.

Visual Aids
I find it very interesting and consistent that the highest paid speakers often use the least visual/audio aids. With only a podium and his voice, he kept six hundred people silent and immobile.

Lesson learned . .  . less can be more.

Netanyahu went to high school and college in this country. Speaking with little accent, he speaks in measured tone. While you know he speaks with passion, his delivery is not the fire and brimstone variety. His delivery is more of a cold as ice, don't mess with me variety. He conveys his "moral clarity" in everything he says, and how he says everything.
Lesson learned . . . develop your own style.

His plan to uproot terror was threefold (three-what a surprise to you students of speaking). It was concise and clearly organized and spoken.
1. Plant seeds of freedom
2. Have moral and strategic clarity
3. Have the will to win
Lesson learned . .  . to be an effective speaker you need to present in three's and write for the ear not the eye.

He began with a biblical story that ended up having very little to do with the Bible and much to do with the fear of public speaking. It was a clever way to begin his comments, humor without telling a joke, appealing to everyone's fear of speaking or their fear of being bored by the speaker. It was an appropriate way to introduce his comments. Call me if you would like to hear/use the actual story.
Lesson learned . . . the introduction is important to get attention and also to allow the audience to get familiar with your voice and style.

One of the Ohio Supreme Court Justices, Evelyn Lundberg-Stratton said the convocation. It was a personal and well-written piece except for one detail. She thought he was still Prime Minister.
Lesson learned . . . know your facts.