There’s an art to great speechmaking, and we can all take note how to improve. But could it also be the key to finding great talent?
I’ve just woken up in Los Angeles and am still in awe of Cate Blanchett’s amazing acceptance speech at last night’s Oscars.
No – I wasn’t in the audience (maybe next year!), but watching with a group of friends in our Art Deco hangout in Santa Monica. It felt a bit like watching the AFL Grand Final from an apartment in East Melbourne. The action was only metres away, but there you were, watching it on television like the rest of the world.
Cate’s speech was the demonstration of a well educated, articulate, thoughtful, and endearing individual. She came across as a true professional who was both confident and competent – a rare combination.
As far as I’m concerned, her speech ticked all the boxes. She used this once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to the world about the wealth of Australian talent, the important role of women in business, and her number one passion, the Sydney Theatre Company.
And, I’m sorry, I have always tried to avoid writing negative comments about specific individuals, but Cate provided a VERY stark contrast to the best male actor who…quite frankly…in his acceptance speech reinforced a lot of stereotypes about the acting world and Hollywood. Enough said!
Don’t Get Sticky Fingers
Now, I know there will probably be social media furore over her comment, “Julia, #suckit.” The background to which Blanchett is staying close-lipped.
Cate refused to dish on what was behind #suckit, saying simply "It happened in the bar with Miss Roberts and that's all I'm [going] to say"
— People Magazine (@people) March 3, 2014
It would seem Cate’s has proved correct an earlier, very clever quote from Julia Roberts regarding social media: “It’s like cotton candy. It looks so appealing, but then you just end up with sticky fingers”.
Wow! What a great analogy – sticky fingers. Really made me rethink my little personal journey on twitter, which you can read about in “Who gives a tweet?”.
Anyway, back to great speechmaking. While scrolling through my Twitter timeline to learn more about Cate’s big win, I stumbled across AFL Boss Andrew Demetriou’s 11 minute resignation speech.
OK, so it’s not everyday someone draws a link between Andrew Demetriou and Cate Blanchett! But in a matter of 24 hours, both these Australians made great leadership speeches that will help define their respective legacies.
Both speeches had the following in common –
- Paid respect to their respective “codes”
- Showed humility and empathy
- Recognised where they had come from and those who had supported their journey
- Sent a clear message about their passions/key communication points
- Thanked their family
Because of their statesman-like, intelligent and heartfelt comments, they left their audience thinking even more highly of their respective professions.
Your Speechmaking Checklist
It’s not everyday that we mere mortals are called on to make landmark speeches, but the checklist above certainly gives us some good reminders as we walk through our professional lives.
So when that day arrives, and you’re in front of the camera, audience, or friends, will you be able to deliver a compelling summary of your contribution?
Here’s some thought starters:
- As we interact with our team, do we show gratitude?
- Are we investing our energy in those people who will be part of the winning team?
- Will we have contributed in a material way to the development of our “code” or profession?
- Have we supported our family as much as they have supported us?
- Do we have a view, an opinion, or a passion that we are actively promoting to others as we interact daily?
- Are we living and working by our values?
- Are we showing empathy and humility?
- And what about our team and others we have dealt with along the way? Will they be our greatest advocates?
Speechmaking – The Key to Finding Talent?
But the importance of oration goes even further than our own ability to present professionally it would seem. It could just be the key to finding great young talent.
I’m always looking for great talent to help build my three businesses – The Faculty, The Source and Procurious. So, when I came across advice in Forbes on “how to find the Millennials who will lead your company,” I really took notice.
The author, Robert Sher, advised us to be on the lookout for Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) who have had experience in speechmaking and debating.
He highlights that the world needs business executives that have a deep understanding of how to persuade, how to present clearly, and how to connect with an audience.
Sher notes that many professionals, “fall short when it comes to speaking and communications skills. Many are good at making Power Point slides, and some are good at presenting facts clearly—even recommendations clearly.
“But few practice, or are aware of the techniques behind moving the emotions of audiences; whether they be in a meeting, or in an all-hands gathering of hundreds of people. We all know that people spring to action based on emotions, then simply justify it with logic.”
Here is the truth about students who compete in speech and debate. They’ve spent hundreds of hours perfecting their speaking skills. Many have done intensive research to write their speeches.
All have endured the pressure that competition brings. They have performed well intellectually under such pressure, and they’ve made connections and friendships with other high performing peers. All of these behaviours are excellent predictors of success on any leadership team.