Speaking Like a Pharoah

This weekGive Speeches and Stories the Way American Pharoah Racesend, I cheered as I watched a phenomenal animal accomplish the rare feat of winning horse racing’s Triple Crown. It sparked memories of the first year I ever watched horse racing – 1973 – and the accomplishments of arguably the greatest race horse that has ever lived, Secretariat.

When American Pharoah crossed the finish line to stamp his place in history, you could feel a surge of electricity in the air.

Like most other sports, horse racing is actually a team effort. American Pharoah is unquestionably a gifted horse, blessed with speed and a demeanor suited for racing. However, he is not the first horse to have these traits. Why have so many other talented horses failed to win the Triple Crown of horse racing despite these gifts? To be sure, an element of bad luck has been involved with some who failed to win – injuries, bad weather and other unplanned events can affect the outcome of a race.

In order for a horse to perform at its best over a long period of time, a great trainer and jockey must be involved. The trainer must learn the horse’s temperament, its strong points and weaknesses, and coach him/her up to capitalize on those strengths. The jockey must also know these characteristics and be able to ‘read’ the horse in the heat of competition. He must anticipate when it’s time to hold the horse back and when it’s time to push it harder.

What does this have to do with speaking? More than you may realize. There are many talented presenters, but few who are successful enough to leave an impact over a long period of time. The best speakers work with a team of people who understand their strengths, their abilities and their weaknesses. They are open to feedback and prepare for every possible situation when speaking.

Your coaches must know your speaking style – are you more extroverted or introverted? Does humor flow naturally from you, or do you have to work at it. Are you highly energetic or more subdued when you speak. If your coaches don’t know these answers, they may try to mold you into the type of speaker that you are not, and your effectiveness will be lost.

Good coaches will also know how to help you prepare your speeches – the best settings to drill and rehearse your talk, and the best types of audiences to give you feedback.

Lastly, when everything is on the line – when it’s time to give your talk, the best coaches know that this is not the time for new ideas. They should simply remind you that you’ve prepared, you know your material, and you’re ready.

As you evolve as a speaker, consider using coaches. Find people who you are comfortable with and who take the time to get to know you. The more of your natural style others can see in you, the more they’ll be able to coach you to be the best possible speaker you can be.

With the right guidance, perhaps you, too, can bring a surge of electricity to your audiences. When you’re backed by a team that has nurtured and coaxed the best of your skills and helped you to speak the way American Pharoah runs, you, too, can leave a lasting impact.


‘The Wright Brothers’ by David McCullough

Most people know the story of two bicycle shop owners from Dayton, Ohio who ushered in the age of mechanized flight. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough (John Adams, 1776) offers a superb insight into these two brothers, who, in the face of ridicule, adversity and public doubt, pushed forward until they not only invented the airplane, but tested it until it was a viable product for the masses. This terrific book is a testament to the power of focus and perseverance.

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Why Speaking is Not a Solo Effort ultima modifica: 2015-06-08T10:49:20-04:00 da Michael Davis