What We Can Learn from Abraham Lincoln’s Public Speaking History –
See Part 1 here: What We Can learn from Abraham Lincoln’s Public Speaking Hsitory – Part 1
Although he was regarded as gangly and awkward physically, President Abraham Lincoln knew how to connect to audiences. Here are two more practices he embraced that could help you, too.
(1) He chose words that anybody could understand.
Mr. Lincoln was known to show respect for people of all stations in life. This attitude was reflected in how he selected the words and phrases he used in his speeches. You didn’t find thousand dollar words or ones only the super-educated would understand.
When you select the words for your message, bear in mind who’s listening and the kind of impact you’re trying to make.
(2) He did not hide how he felt about the topics he presented.
While Mr. Lincoln could have been an intimidating figure, given his height and often serious, sad face, when he spoke on the key issues of his day, he did not hide his emotions or passions. Instead, he successfully used these feelings to help bring alive the carefully crafted logic and facts he presented.
When Lincoln was a young man doing odd jobs in New Salem, Illinois, he was often asked to write letters for his less literate friends. The future president “learned to see other people’s thoughts and feelings and ideas by writing their friendly, confidential letters,” according to a friend from that era, Mentor Graham.
I recommend that you envision a real person or a small group of people you know when you craft a speech or presentation instead of an audience of strangers. Keep it as personal, value-rich and as down-to-earth as you can. And don’t forget to give yourself time to practice until you’re “natural” looking and sounding, as Lincoln did! Let me know how your presentation goes.
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