Results tagged “Barack Obama” from Birmingham Post - Business Blog
The comedian Jerry Seinfield once quipped: "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."
Perhaps disappointingly, this joke may stem from something of an urban myth - we may be more afraid of dying after all. However, even if that is the case, it's no exaggeration to suggest that speaking in public can cause lots of us considerable angst.
But the recent US election may offer hope to glossophobes everywhere. The candidates' ability at public speaking seemed to be a daily issue of analysis and debate. And, irrespective of your views on the underlying politics, there were some fantastic examples of oratory. Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican Convention was at times electrifying; and supporters of John McCain may well wish that all of his campaign speeches were as graceful and dignified as the one he gave when conceding defeat.
However, it is inevitable that this blog will mention the man who will become the 44th President. Some of Barack Obama's speeches - his speech on race following the furore caused by Rev Wright and the speech in Chicago on election night both spring to mind - were oratory of the very highest order.
And here's the good news for the public-speaking-phobics amongst you - the President Elect apparently wasn't born with the gift of the gab. Perhaps the most interesting revelation (and certainly the most relevant to the message I'm trying to get across) of the
Panorama programme, Obama and the Pitbull: An American Tale , which aired just before the election, was a quotation from Barack Obama's agent from his earliest days in Chicago politics. According to the agent, the first time Obama spoke he sounded (with apologies to legal academics everywhere) "like the dull law professor he was". The next time, "he could have given Martin Luther King oratory lessons". The web abounds with references to the next President's oratorical brilliance, but I think we can all take comfort from the fact that it's a skill that anyone can learn.
Back in Blighty, we have an example of an outstanding orator who had to work incredibly hard to master his art. Winston Churchill was undoubtedly a brilliant speaker, but he honed, edited and rehearsed even his apparently most-off-the-cuff remarks. My favourite bit of Schott's Original Miscellany , one of the best trivia books I have ever read, is the section on Churchill and Rhetoric. In a page and a half, you get the posh phrase to describe the key rhetorical devices which might help your public speaking (antimetabole anyone?), a description of what it means and then an example of Churchill using it.
Does anyone fancy Speakers' Corner?
As America goes to the polls today, I am worried about how both candidates seem hopelessly out of touch with European issues. I mean - neither Obama nor the Other Guy have expressed an opinion on Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross.
At least Gordon Brown shows he is a man of the people. Even if he didn't hear the broadcast himself, he knows what will swing the voters of Fife.
One of the most fascinating things about working in media relations is trying to understand how and why news becomes news.
This last week there should have been two main stories: the US election and Gordon's last stand in a Scottish by-election. Instead we had almost blanket coverage of a prank phone call on a radio show. How did that happen?