Public Speaking: Why do politicians need it?

Yes, yes. You may be saying, “Duh!?! You took the easy one first.” You are right. I took the easy one first.

Politicians need public speaking skills. I know it. You know it. If you don’t know it, you probably don’t vote anyway.

But, if you will humor me for a moment, we can look a bit at the specifics about why. We can set the baseline reasons for public speaking with the “Why”. They will be the same reasons that we see later, in other careers or vocations. The same reasons, for different careers, applied differently.

Of course, with the recent announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain‘s running mate, we now have a new picture of who are the best public speakers of this election. Senator Obama has been painted as an excellent speaker and, from what I have seen so far, he may have some competition in Sarah Palin. So why not start with politics?

So go ahead. You can say it. “Why do politicians need public speaking skills.”

What is their bottom line? Yes, yes. You got it. To get elected. And you know that getting elected takes persuasion.

You can persuade through your words. By picking the right words to accurately convey your meaning. And unfortunately by picking words that are vague enough to let the listener assign the meaning. Which is the reason we now have such a bad view of the word “rhetoric”.

Did you know that rhetoric is defined as

1 a: the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a: the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times b: the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion
2 a: skill in the effective use of speech b: a type or mode of language or speech; also : insincere or grandiloquent language
3: verbal communication

So while you may know rhetoric as a dishonest use of persuasive speech, rhetoric is actually the effective use of persuasive speech.  The Use of real and honest arguments that appeal to your sense of logic as well as your feelings.

Good politicians do this. Unfortunately so do bad politicians  It’s all about your vote.

When you have the opportunity, watch the politicians.  See how they speak, what they say, and especially watch the audience’s reactions.

Jim Key recently spoke about the Democratic and Republican Party conventions.  I also watched some of those speeches.  I saw a good chunk of Senator Obama’s acceptance speech and was confused by the obvious back and forth action of his eyes and head.  It really stood out as an action that would not connect him with his audience.  Thanks to Jim, I now know why he was doing it.

What do you think about the speeches you have seen?  Share it here and keep it in mind.  Persuasion will come back as we discuss other careers, professions, and activities.

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