Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey inspires her audience.

Oprah Winfrey

“It was 1964. I was just a little girl. I sat on the linoleum floor in my mother’s house and watched the Oscar ceremony on TV “(0:50). With these words Oprah Winfrey begins her speech. The details (cold floor, white tie and black skin) revive the event. She describes the moment when Sydney Poitier was the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor. This means a lot for the little girl, who at that time was following the Oscars from the “cheap seats”. This personal reference makes the speech very emotional.

In 1982 Sydney Poitier received the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the Golden Globes – the award that Oprah Winfrey is now the first black woman to receive. She skillfully draws attention to the fact that little girls are now watching again. So she refers twice to what she mentioned before: First black man/woman, little girl.

Tempo, gestures and repetition

During Oprah Winfrey’s speech, she changes tempo several times. She talks about the Hollywood Press Association, which has a lot of work to do these days: To reveal the absolute truth, to expose corruption and illegality. Her gestures support what she says:”What I know for sure is that truth is the strongest tool we have,” she emphasizes. She says she has great respect for the women who have gone public with their stories. “This year we have become history,” she says. She repeats the word “history” three times. She tries to keep eye contact with the audience – but sometimes it gets lost because of the wide-brimmed glasses.

#metoo

Oprah continues with the #metoo campaign by telling the story of the raped Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks, the woman who took care of the case. She brings her strong message with an anaphora:”Your time is up!” Their time is up! She repeats this sentence three times, while the people in the audience are torn from their seats and give resounding applause.

Come full circle

She comes full circle by returning to the little girls. With that she addresses all the girls who are watching to give them hope:”A new day is coming”. “And this day will be wonderful, especially because of the wonderful women and some phenomenal men who will make sure that no one ever has to say,” Me too!”

Conclusion

What can you learn for your own presentations from Oprah Winfrey?

  • Tell personal stories
  • Make references to events, history, people and facts.

Click here for the video.

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Bernd Baumann Nazi Card

A Nazi analogy made by the AfD

Bernd Baumann Nazi CardAfD politician Bernd Baumann makes a Nazi analogy – at the first speech in the German Bundestag. Doing so he surely convinced his followers. In his speech, Baumann criticized the decision made at the end of the previous legislative period to appoint the senior president according to years of service rather than years of life. With the aim of not allowing an AfD deputy to open the first session of the Bundestag.

“Only in 1933 did Hermann Goering break the rule because he wanted to ostracize his political opponent. Do they want to go down such a slippery slope? Come back to the line of the German democrats,” Baumann stressed. A rhetorically really well prepared speech, in which Baumann is supported by the regular applause of his party members. Even more: in his speech, the politician also addresses the press reports according to which this decision “does not cast a good light on the parliamentary culture in Germany” (Focus). And this despite the fact that the press “is not in the majority favorable to the AfD,” according to Baumann.

He cleverly takes elements from German history and tradition as supporting arguments for his point of view.

Repetitions and conclusion

“How big? How great must the fear of the AfD be?” Baumann repeats. The icing on the cake is the conclusion of the speech: In just one sentence, Baumann lists all the issues that are important to his party. “From this hour on, issues will be renegotiated here. … In future also about the euro, gigantic borrowing, gigantic immigration figures, open borders and increasingly brutal criminality on our streets, ladies and gentlemen,” Baumann says.

What can you take away from this for your own presentations?

  1. Use analogies, including those from your country’s history.
  2. Do verbal judo and take an accusation you are often given and turn it around.
  3. Make sure you have people in the audience to support you.
  4. Summarize everything again in one last sentence.

Click here for the video in which Bernd Baumann, AfD, pulls the Nazi card.

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Besinnliche Stimmung: Kerze

Christmas – once particularly contemplative

Light a candle for a change

For most of us, a successful Christmas includes many elements: the special food, the appropriate decoration, the festive music, the beautiful clothes, the invited guests, the reflective stories … Which brings us to the theme of this article: contemplative stories.

A contemplative story also needs several elements to be well received. One of the elements, which you should not forget is the lighting. Here is my suggestion for this year:

  1. Tell a story and
  2. Replace ordinary light with candlelight before starting to tell your story?

The candlelight will give your story a very special, contemplative atmosphere.

Incidentally, lighting is also often a (neglected) topic in business presentations. Just seen again: The speaker left the lighting on the canvas on, so the slides were barely legible. This has nothing to do with contemplation, but with the fact that the message comes across better or worse, depending on the lighting.

In this sense I wish you and your dearest a contemplative and Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

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Rita Pierson

Every kid needs a champion.

In a TED lecture Rita F. Pierson explains  that every child needs a role model. She herself comes from a family of teachers. In the first sentence she makes that very clear. And thereby establishes a personal connection to the topic. The introductory sentence contains the word “schoolhouse” three times. This is not only funny, it also establishes her as an expert. It gives her credibility. In particular, her humor allows to reach her listeners.

She also connects to the experiences of the listeners when she says key sentences such as:”Children don’t learn from people they don’t like”. Relationships are extremly important. Unfortunately, this is all too often forgotten in school. I suppose everyone in the audience agrees with her.

She underlines her assertion with two quotations. One of James Comer:”No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship” and one of George Washington-Carver:”All learning is understanding relationships”. A little later, she takes up the subject of relationships again and describes a moving personal example during her mother’s funeral.

In her speech she also uses direct speech. She talks about a student who has only solved 2 out of 20 tasks correctly. She’s replaying the scene. She imitates the voice of the student and exaggerates her facial expression. Despite or because of the poor performance of the pupil, she manages to make the audience laugh without making the pupil look badly. This is very funny and makes the audience receptive to her message.

It’s not that hard to use Pierson’s speech techniques in your own presentations. Here is a selection of three techniques she used in her speech.

  1. Build a first sentence that is not only funny, but also strengthens your credibility.
  2. Emphasize your statements with quotes from well-known people.
  3. Play scenes from real life, including direct speech.

Click here for the video of Rita Pierson. The video is about 8 minutes long. Very inspiring.

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Gunter Pauli

Move your listeners, if necessary right at the beginning of your presentation

The number one rule of public speaking is,”Don’t bore your audience.” Because that many times leads to the audience falling asleep.

Some situations are easier than others to keep the listeners awake. Especially with rising temperatures – at the moment it’s about 30 degrees Celsius in my office – and with meetings that feel as long as a marathon it can be very difficult to keep the listeners and participants attention. Karem Albash, a colleague from the GSA, has brought to my attention a video on YouTube, in which this problem is masterfully solved. It is a video excerpt from the Entrepreneurship Summit 2014 in Berlin. Even if this occasion is a while back, I think everyone can learn something from it.

In the video we see Gunter Pauli, entrepreneur and designer and co-founder of The Blue Economy. He’s one of many speakers. What does Gunter Pauli do to wake up the audience?

  1. Gunter Pauli is in a good mood.
  2. He’s brimming with energy.
  3. He sets the audience in motion.

In particular, I think the third point is worth mentioning. Even though the first two points are a prerequisite for the third point to be successful. Namely: He makes the audience get up. At first glance, he doesn’t seem to be able to do it with all spectators. But he doesn’t give up: He insists. The audience seems to follow him. Especially as he has to ask the audience to sit down again at a later date. Acoustically, we hear that the audience has fun to participate. Yes, often this is the case: the audience wants to have fun or at least be entertained. Don’t be boring. As mentioned at the beginning, this is the highest rule of public speaking.

In addition, the third point is interesting because it helps the audience to take a different viewpoint. This contributes to the audience’s willingness to take new ways of thinking.

Why not also invite your audience to stand up, stretch out and move in a meeting or conference?

Click here for the video of and with Gunter Pauli

The sequence takes only 40 seconds (00:07 – 00:47). Look at it.

As always: Practice makes perfect. Only if you take the trouble to implement the tips, you have the chance to make a good speech.

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