By Tim Hayes
Politics, it seems, never leaves the national consciousness. As the mid-term Congressional election season begins to get in gear, we can learn much – regardless of personal party affiliation or policy stances – about the power of persuasive language.
Whether dealing with a business topic, a political cause or a personal message, the same elements apply. A speech is not a glorified research paper, or at least it shouldn’t be. Instead, a speech should present relevant information cloaked in an entertaining and engaging manner, designed so that those hearing it remember key ideas. A great speech also envelops those ideas in classic turns of phrase, like these:
“This nation is a shining city on a hill.” – President Ronald Reagan
“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them. ”- President George W. Bush
“If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
“The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.” – President John F. Kennedy
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“That government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” – President Abraham Lincoln
These words endure – some more than 140 years since they were uttered. And why? Because they not only transmitted information, they stirred emotions, they excited souls. The listeners’ brains may have recorded the words, but the listeners’ hearts registered the moment. And therein lies all the difference.
Americans hear much political rhetoric, some soaring, some sophomoric. But those individuals who must speak publicly, whether leading a business or a movement, can glean valuable insights from the world of politics as to what makes the spoken word the most powerful form of human expression – insights that effectively empower leaders of any stripe.
From where will the next great leaders emerge? When? And will such leaders maximize the tremendous force for positive change that persuasive language creates? If they hope to be great, they must
Copyright 2010 Tim Hayes Consulting