I like it when a blogger takes time to answer a comment to a post - it suggests they see the first post as the opening line in a conversation, not the last word on the given topic.
Scott Rayburn does just this in his new blog presentation coach - 'a journal about how to be a great public speaker'.
Despite the ability to communicate digitally, nothing conveys genuine passion and conviction like a great speech. That's why we still travel thousands of miles to sit in lecture theatres. Apart from the pen sketches that accompany Scott's posts, its the straight-forward practical thinking that makes this a great blog.
I asked Scott about how to get an inexperienced speaker to develop a rhythm. He replies:
...Short of putting this person through remedial classes in grammar and vocabulary with which to build up her inventory, one path to a better presentation may be in helping her frame her speaking experience as a conversation rather than as a speech; to adopt the mannerisms and rhythms she might use when telling her coworkers about her weekend or her next project. If it’s a topic she cares about, and she is freed from a burden of too many “rules” about correct speechgiving, she may find that her passion and enthusiasm seeps into her words and delivery.
...I believe audiences grade speakers not by how well they follow rules, but by their authenticity as people sharing information with other people. Some of the most powerful and memorable presentations I’ve ever witnessed came from people who didn’t have a clue how to “give a speech.” They didn’t know about cadence, and voice inflection and transitions. Instead, they knew intrinsically how to punctuate their remarks for effect because what they were saying came from a genuine place inside them. Absent a focused program of coaching, instruction and relentless practice, it was the best place they could turn to and it worked.
Note, of course, that Scott is not saying that passion is a substitute for training.
However, I have been to conferences on corporate responsibility where people who went into the job they were doing because they wanted something that reflected their values and gave them opportunities to do good seemed lifeless on stage, not just nervous but bored.
That, to me, suggests that too often the passion is squeezed out with measuring, reporting and struggling to make a case to cynical colleagues. All to easily people with responsibility for corporate responsibility lose sight of the reason they're in the job they are in. They need reconnecting with that 'place inside them'. It's this that gives you conviction; whether you're talking to a conference of 500 or a board of five.