Would you like to learn a sleight of hand trick by one of the great masters of public speaking? Ronald Reagan did this throughout his speaking career and it served him pretty well. He was very keen on the importance of stagecraft- looking the part in terms of his appearance, looking authoritative, confident, and completely in charge of the situation. You never saw him with his jacket off in the White House and you would never see him with his feet up on the table.

Ronald Reagan really enjoyed and excelled at stagecraft and that is why he was a great communicator. He always wanted to be seen walking with his hands free, whether it was at an inaugural parade or just walking up to the lectern to give a speech. He did not want to be seen clutching a bunch of papers like George W. Bush has often been seen doing. He did not want to be seen pulling a big speech on a lengthy paper which would only serve to remind everyone that he was reading.

Ronald Reagan would also be reading his speeches but it was not for the television or his audience to see. He wanted to create the illusion that he was just talking to people which is a good thing. He would walk up to the lectern and he could wave with his right hand and the left as well, giving the impression that he was relaxed and comfortable and was just here to talk.

Here’s what he did: he would have note cards- 3 by 5 cards placed in his left jacket pocket for easy access. He would get behind the lectern and wave to the right. While doing so, he would pull the card out of his pocket and put it on the lectern in front of him without anyone taking note of his actions. So no one had any idea that he was using notes and the trick had worked.

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