Dick Cavett calls out the Presidential candidates, and has most of it right!
Read his article in the New York Times here – it has great insights on speaking and communicating. Written in his own humorous style, as a comedian he rightly emphasizes humor. And he tells stories – well. If only politicians could do that.
Although I think he misses the mark with Barack Obama (Obama is a great orator but he does NOT use the teleprompter well) Cavett gives a lot of tips and techniques from a pro that are very useful to any communicator.
But the most interesting new tidbit is how Dwight D. Eisenhower became likable. Robert Montgomery was his speaking coach, and here’s what Cavett says:
“Politicians, if smart, would hire not just a comedy writer but an acting coach. Years ago, the gifted and classy film actor (and lieutenant commander in the Navy) Robert Montgomery pulled off a
miracle in this regard. Hired as a public appearance consultant for the marginally articulate Dwight D. Eisenhower — a former president, should you be among the students who scored so abysmally on that general knowledge test a while back — Montgomery transformed the man.
First he hauled the president out from behind the massive presidential desk from which it was hard not to appear ponderous and had him stand in front of it. Shirtsleeves; no jacket. To cure the rigid, military upright look of a general, he had his illustrious client lean back slightly against the desk (without sitting on it) and cross his arms casually. The actor in Montgomery knew how important
stance is to the way you talk.
The success of these seemingly minor adjustments was instant. Suddenly, turgid old President Eisenhower became “Ike.” A genial, avuncular fellow you might like to have over.”