Armin Laschet was elected chairman of the CDU Germany on January 16, 2021. He prevailed over his main rival Friedrich Merz. From a rhetorical point of view, I’m not surprised for a second. Why? You will find out in this article.
Armin Laschet’s speech was worlds better than that of Friedrich Merz. I suspect that Armin Laschet took a coach for this speech.
How do I compare the two speeches? I could easily list 20 points that struck me as positive in Laschet’s speech. At this point, only a few.
|Really good: Armin Laschet makes a lot of eye contact with the audience behind the camera.
|Not ideal: Friedrich Merz often looks sideways at those present in the room instead of into the camera.
|Both could speak even more freely if they had a teleprompter (or two) installed. That’s how Barak Obama has done it over and over again. Nevertheless, the point goes to Armin Laschet. Especially because he speaks the ending without reading.
|He uses his father’s story in underground mining as an analogy for what really matters: Trust.
|Friedrich Merz needs practically no stories and no analogies. Therefore, no pictures arise in my head. But these would be important. The whole speech is too abstract, too general.
|The camera settings are well chosen.
|In his place, I would have had a word with the picture director beforehand and certainly afterwards. The attitudes were consistently to his detriment: for example, several times we got to see bored party members or those who were doing something other than listening with interest.
|Laschet cleverly put the recommendation to vote for him in the mouth of his father (14:08). Quoting Laschet, “He [der Vater] said, “Tell people they can trust you.” That goes down much better than, “Trust me.”
|He speaks in the “we” form, but I am not with him emotionally.
|The conclusion is the highlight of the speech: Armin Laschet stands on the side of the lectern and pulls his father’s dog tag out of his pocket, creating an image for the ages. Moreover, he wonderfully closed the circle to the beginning of the speech.
|Friedrich Merz always shows himself more or less the same. It does not result in a special photo subject.
Conclusion: You should definitely watch Armin Lascht’s speech. And for comparison, a few minutes of that of Friedrich Merz. Finest visual material.
If you too want to give online and offline speeches that move your audience emotionally, give me a call. I will be happy to support you.
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I wish you success for your next presentation.
Many think a presentation starts with the first word. That is a good idea, but it is wrong. Above all, the presentation start is at the latest when attention is drawn to the speaker. Usually this is the point in time at which the speaker moves significantly. That means, as soon as the speaker gets up from his chair, all pairs of eyes are on him/her.
Recently I heard an interview by Brian Walter with Connie Podesta in the podcast “Voices of Experience” of the National Speakers Association NSA. Connie (www.conniepodesta.com) makes the point that the presentation starts much earlier. She is of the opinion that the presentation does not start on stage, but when the first contact with the potential customer takes place, that is to say many times on the phone.
What does she mean?
Before she even makes a phone call to the potential customer, she researches the customer. She is looking for a story with which she can create a good connection to the event organizer. She mentions two examples.
Example 1: Conny told the event organizer of McDonalds her personal story with McDonalds. She grew up in the same city where McDonalds opened its first store. Her father often surprised her and the family with a white bag of McDonalds. Even today she loves to go to McDonalds at the airport to drink a vanilla latte.
Example 2: When she phoned Walmart’s event organizer, she shared her father’s story. Example 2: When she phoned Walmart’s event organizer, she shared her father’s story. “My father has always been a Walmart fan and was always most happy to receive a Walmart voucher from me at Christmas. After he died, I found a valid voucher in my father’s jacket pocket. I thought a lot about what to buy with it. Finally I bought a picture frame from Walmart for a picture of me with my Dad. The picture and the frame are here in front of me on my desk.”
What can you take away from this for your own presentations?
- The presentation does not start on stage, but long before.
- The telephone conversation is like a short demo presentation. You show how well you understand the customer. The customer hears whether he feels comfortable with your style.
- You can use the story, if you are booked, for your appearance with the customer on stage.
Listen to the podcast here: www.thomas-skipwith.com/podcasts. (Bonus: You will here many more useful tips during the interview between Bruno Erni and myself.)
If you want to hear the original of Connie Podesta’s contribution in English, the best way is to download the Speakernomics app (formerly VoE) and listen to the April 2018 edition of “Voices of Experience”.
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I am often asked if I like PowerPoint or Prezi better. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. In a typical consultant manner I answer: “It depends.” It is not clear which software is better, because both have their advantages.
Is PowerPoint better?
PowerPoint is probably known to all readers of this training newsletter. Who presents without PowerPoint? Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to think about what PowerPoint is all about.
- The software follows the same logic as the other Microsoft programs Word and Excel. Many people find it correspondingly easy to operate.
- You write and draw page by page (slide by slide) – similar to a book.
- It is the de facto standard in the business world. Virtually all laptops have the software installed and you will have little trouble with it at conferences.
- The software is installed locally on the laptop/computer. You don’t need an internet connection to hold your presentation (unlike Prezi).
- PowerPoint for Windows goes well with most projectors. (The PowerPoint version for Mac should be used with caution. Also, the Mac version has less features.)
Or is Prezi better?
Prezi’s logic follows a different pattern. It was developed by architect Adam Somlia-Fischer, who wanted to show his audience both an overview and details on a map – without losing the overview. Following this logic, you will not find individual pages in Prezi as in PowerPoint, but a single, infinitely large area. You can zoom in and out on it. This way you can see the overview and details on a map as you like – similar to zooming in and out on Google Maps.
- Prezi is designed as a cloud-based application so that it can be accessed from anywhere and the files can be easily shared. Accordingly, a functioning internet connection is required. (However, there is a downloadable version for an additional charge. This can alleviate problems in hotels with poor internet connections.)
- It is ideal for explaining a city map to tourists or presenting a floor plan of a production line, for example.
- Prezi fulfills the criterion to do something different than everyone else. In this respect it can be a good change and thus increase the attention of the audience.
- If all other speakers use PowerPoint at a conference and you present with Prezi, you will have to overcome additional technical hurdles.
- It is difficult to produce participant documents. Usually it means an extra effort.
- If you use Prezi badly, you can cause nausea among your audience. (In the past I already had the feeling that I was on a roller coaster.)
- The software needs (like any software) a more or less long training period.
What can you take with you for your own presentations?
- Both are good tools. It is crucial that they are used correctly, though.
- So it is not a question of “either-or”, but of which tool better serves your purpose.
- Use either tool correctly – and it has a great impact.
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“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.
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!”
What can you learn for your own presentations from Oprah Winfrey?
- Tell personal stories
- Make references to events, history, people and facts.
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Thomas Skipwith supports executives, companies and individuals to present like a pro and to avoid loosing business and reputation through bad presentations.
He regularly speaks at large events and is a four time winner of the European Championship of Public Speaking.
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