"I'M GLAD I'M HERE..."
Those are the first four words of the mantra my mentor, the late Dorothy Sarnoff - arguably the best speech coach in the country - taught me. Dorothy knew how to capture and move an audience. She was the second female lead in the original Broadway production of "The King and I" (among numerous other shows) and eventually created her own firm to help many great people, like Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin and the "Great Communicator" himself, Ronald Reagan, "own the room." Her mantra works. I've taught it to everyone I work with - from CEO's to stand-up comics to a presidential candidate - to people looking for that next great job or promotion. And we all say it out loud before we walk onto any stage, begin any interview, or enter any conversation where "connecting" is what it's all about. (And never doubt it, "connecting" is always what it's all about.) And I'd like to share it - along with my interpretations - with you..
1. I'm glad I'm here. Approach any audience - from Piers Morgan to an interview with a prospective boss, to a speed-dating session - anticipating the absolute best. Think: Cher walking out on a stage..."Boy, is this gonna be good.."
2. I'm glad you're here. Remember, it's not about you. It's about them! Don't think: Do they like me? How'm I doing? How do I look?" Think: How are they? What do they need? Great speaking is all about listening, even 'tho you're the one doing the talking. Bill Clinton is one of the best speaker/listeners around.
3. I care about you. Love the audience...and they'll love you right back. Love them so much that you're willing to stop and search for the right words - or even look foolish - to make your point. Don't worry, you'll connect, all right..
4. I know that I know. Trust your material, trust your instincts, trust your ability to "get it" about your audience and to give them what they need. Don't critique yourself as you speak; let your passion for your message carry you through. Charisma is nothing more - or less - than passion demonstrated.. Go with it.
I coached Senator Bob Graham when he was running for president and whenever members of his staff would see me coming they'd all chant "the mantra" in unison. I loved it. As it turned out, Senator Graham bowed out of the race. But he wrote me a wonderful note saying, "If we'd worked together ten years earlier, I'd be president by now." If he had been, you know what words he'd have been saying to himself right before he began his inaugural address, don't you? "I'm glad I'm here...."
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