On Oratory and Communication

 Martin Luther King’s Birthday

It’s appropriate to hear the whole speech today, and now you can do it here on YouTube (and many other sites.) Rev. King was a master of oratory, rhythm, cadence, and a whole lot more. A great article was in last Friday’s WSJ by Mark Oppenheimer on his brilliant use of words with historical reference that strike a resonant cord in any age listener.

And another outstanding reference to MLK, as well as the comparison to some recent communicators (and non-communicators) is at Presentation Zen – worth looking at.

We are no longer in the age of oratory – though we can still learn from it. But good business men and women do not write out speeches and read them. They often speak in a tone that is conversational but not casual, powerful but not stentorian. (Steve Jobs for example.)

Many of you saw (or heard of) the terrible job communicating that the head of Cingular did at MacWorld. (Now what’s his name again.) Actually, you can almost tell how bad he is just from this great photo series from Garr Reynolds (Presentation Zen again)

– Stan of Cingular is on the bottom:

Seth Godin said it best in his comments on this stiff and particularly ‘woeful by comparison’ communication:

“Stan gives his talk from 3 x5 index cards, which he holds awkwardly on stage. And he doesn’t really say anything. One could argue that you can be a great CEO without having a clue how to speak in public. But why not either get better at it or send someone else in your place? If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and I think the standards for a multimillionaire CEO announcing a major new venture ought to be pretty high.”

It’s good we can get inspiration today from Dr. King! See above, and then look at this shorter clip, and you’ll be moved to pehaps use some cadence, and begin to use words better, and without note cards!

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