Good Speakers… I found one. How about you?

Last night was opening night for Harding Elementary School’s Opera. The theme for this year is Engineering. It was a wonderful event to witness. Why? Because all year long, the staff and teachers integrate the theme into the curriculum, the projects, and it all culminates in the creation and execution of the opera.

While the students certainly performed admirably, it was an event that occurred afterward that particularly caught my attention, as a speaking and presentation coach.

Apparently, each year one teacher is recognized for the contributions made to the opera. This year, that teacher was Ms. Maura Jobes.

Let me stop for a moment and ask you a question. Have you ever sat at a function and thought, “When will this end?” You know that feeling. It usually occurs because someone is handed a microphone and their “few comments” turn into a very long, boring speech that loses your attention and interest.

After being presented with the award and the microphone… Ms. Jobes absolutely did NOT affect anyone in this way. Ms. Jobes was clear, concise, and effective and I admire her for her “acceptance speech.”

Would you like to know why?

CLEAR: Ms. Jobes, when accepting the award had one message for the audience… She did what she does because the students deserve it. They work hard for it, they work long for it, and what she did is only what they deserved. I spoke with her afterward. She told me she was very nervous. I couldn’t tell. She presented herself clearly and confidently.

CONCISE: Ms. Jobes could have tried to pass on many messages. She didn’t. She stuck to one message, gave it, and followed it with a story that illustrated her point. That’s it. A friend of mine, Mike Futty, says “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.” Ms. Jobes finished before I was done listening… and I was ENJOYING listening to her.

EFFECTIVE: Is a good message enough? Not usually. No matter how much we wish otherwise, as humans we are swayed by emotion. We can accept logic, but we are persuaded by emotion. Ms. Jobes took her one point and followed it with an emotional story about a previous opera. It was during the setup of the rain forest set before this opera, in which someone said to her, “This is enough leaves. Isn’t it? It’s good enough.” She responded in a matter which made it clear that “good enough” is not nearly GOOD ENOUGH! She and those working with her commenced creating a rain forest scene that was as crowded and busy as an actual rain forest… because the students deserved it.

SUMMARY: Ms. Jobes was clear, concise, and effective by keeping it short, making a point, and touching us with the message she had to give.

Well done.

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