Who is the Best Orator You Know?
Who is the best orator you know? That is a question I get from time to time. It is a tough question because in some ways it is like saying who is the best singer in the world. Well I might like Pavarotti. I might like Robert Plant. I might like both. It is hard to think of best. I like to think of in terms of who is great and consistently interesting and compelling who stands out from 95% of the world. in the English-speaking world, I do work all over the world but I am in the United States. So I am most familiar with that the last 30 years. I would rate Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as two of the best speakers also Barack Obama.
Those three is sort of the best speakers in the English-speaking world. Certainly Margaret Thatcher has her fans, Tony Blair over on the continent. There are great speakers in every culture. Many of them are not aware of because I might not speak the language. I do think it is important to build a relationship a fan relationship not a stalking relationship but a fan relationship with speakers you like. So you can watch them, study them. Learn from them, admire them, go watch their videos again on YouTube. If someone resonates with you, if you like their style and you like their message then it is a great speaker for you. I might not like them; you might love them.
That is okay. great writers all have their own favorite writers they like to read. Great writers read lots and lots of writers. If you want to be a great speaker, you need to watch and study other people you respect as great Speakers.
You Never Have to Lurk in the Shadows Again
I was training a bunch of Engineers at an oil refinery in Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. More than a decade ago and it was pretty much a difficult training. Five engineers they each get up. They speak, I record them we play a FAQ. We critique it. We do it again and again and again. People get more comfortable. They get better. They get more interesting. They get to the point where they like what they see.
Well I will never forget what happened at the end of one of those trainings. At the end of the day and I do what I always do at the end of the training. I go around the room, camera on. I just ask people to tell me what did you get out of today. If anything what did you learn. Here was one engineer in the corner. He was about fifty years old and I noticed he had a tear in his eye. He was very soft-spoken and he was actually crying. What he told me was “TJ what I learned today was I do not have to live in the shadows my whole life. I always thought I was someone who had to be behind the scenes. I am not a public speaker. I am not the front man. I cannot be the face of our organization or my unit. I have got to be in the shadows. You taught me today that I could speak as well as one. I will tell you. It feels really good. I am excited in a way I have never been excited before about my job. I have got to tell you my heart to hear him say that. Because people do not typically cry at the end of my trainings. But it did show that it touched him. It moved him. It made him realize that this is not some skill you are born with.
You are not born with or some people are lucky enough to have it. It is just a technical skill that anyone can learn. He learned by going through that day long in-person workshop. You are learning by being in this online course right now. So why do they tell that story. Why do I use that? I do not like to be overly dramatic and talk about people crying. But it really did happen. I am not making it up. I do think it shows people that you can learn. You can learn at any age. This was not a young man. Now since I’m over 50, I do not think if 50 is old anymore. I was below 50 at the time. But it is an important lesson. You can learn at any time.
It is not something you’re naturally born with. I do believe too many people in this world feel like they can never be the top of an organization or they can never run for office or they can never start their own business. Because they cannot stand up in front of people and speak. That hurts me I want people to know yeah you can. If you can learn all those other things of how to run a business or develop positions for political campaign you can get the speaking part down pretty easily. That is my message: anyone can learn to speak. Anyone can learn at any age.