Although he was regarded as gangly and awkward physically, Mr. 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 recently coached a post-graduate student in psychology who was had been told by supervisors that she appeared disinterested and remote in her presentations, lacking affect. While Judith (not her real name) did care passionately about her patients and their experience with her, nervousness in public speaking interfered with her effectiveness discussing their case histories with hospital authorities. We worked together on story-telling techniques to help her focus on the rich detail and emotion of her work with patients and how to convey these observations under pressure. She ultimately secured the post-graduate position she most wanted.
*Excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius by Anne B. Freedman, For the Genius Press, due out late Fall 2014.
Sign up for our free newsletter, Talking Business, packed with valuable tips and techniques to help you improve your presentation and leadership communication skills.