Lessons from Convention Speeches –Learn these 2 critical techniques

Although many people are afraid of public speaking they forget that the audience really wants you to succeed. When you are in front of an audience speaking, I think most people focus on themselves rather than being authentic and real. These negative approaches to speeches al starts with miss guided thinking. Usually we start this negative cycle by  “make stuff up” about how this audience does not look friendly or that they are not going to be non-responsive to your ideas, and many other self-sabotaging thoughts. Many speakers  take on a new persona in order to manage their fears and stay away from connecting with the audience in any engaging or meaningful way. These tricks seldom work and yet they are repeated time and time again producing the same results–a stiff, unnatural self and boring speech.

Instead of this approach,  I believe that a more positive way to introduce yourself to an audience is to show them that you are an energetic person who values their time and that you are appreciative their interest in your topic. In addition, I have discovered over the years of speech coaching and public speaking, there are some other specific ways to emotionally connect with the audience that will resonate and be perceived favorably.

1..  Exude positive energy and friendly and happy demeanor.  You need to show them right off the “get-go” that you are a happy person and an approachable person, full of life. No one wants to listen to a stressed, moody or distant speaker. As you begin smile and greet them with enthusiasm, and a calm but firm voice, make sure to go up to a higher pitch as you get to a key point and speak a bit louder, happy is full of volume. A positive first impression is critical to your success

2.. Always treat the audience with respect and  consideration. Have check-points in your speech to teat that they are with you and are still engaged with your message. You need to make the audience realize that you are thankful to be here in a position to speak, that you appreciate their time and energy. To give that impression, you should slow your pace down a bit and start by asking a survey type question.  They need to see that you care about them before they care about what you have to say. In the beginning of the speech take your time to set the right tone by not rushing through you key opening remarks. Demonstrate that you just don’t want to rush through this speech but that you want to enjoy and engage them in what they want to learn about the topic not just what you want to say. So show them your passion and appreciation for the opportunity to share your ideas with them and that you want to hear from them and learn from them too.

Come across in this manner and you will hear the applause and appreciation from the audience. Enjoy and let me know how these techniques worked out for you and let me hear from you about other techniques that have worked for you in the past. Coach Dr. Mark

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Message #2 to President Obama and Other Political Leaders—Tipping Point on War may Lead to New Paradigm of Peace.

Message #2 for President Obama–Tiipping Point on War may Lead to New Paradigm of Peace

President needs to support a common sense solution like Russia’s proposal for Syria problem. It is time to show flexibility and common sense that says bombs and guns can’t be a first response to every problem in the Middle East or the world. Listening to the American public has to be the first priority of our elected politicians. The time for bombing Syria is now according to the “insiders” arguing for teaching Syria a lesson and showing the world we are strong. Just because the President drew a red-line and painted himself into a corner because his hand has been called by an irrational and uncivilized regimen does not mean we have to go to war. Of course throughout history the US has shown others we have the military power to kill and shatter lives. This time given that Russia has suggested international monitoring and control of the stock pile of chemical and biological weapons we have the opportunity to stop and find a better resolution than bombing a country embroiled in a civil war.

To go to war the President must:                                                                                              

1. The US must go to war because Syria represents an immediate threat to our way of life and security.   

2. Be clear about the effects and consequences of bombing and how that will degrade and dissuade Syria from more chemical attacks.

3. Show us the evidence that he is 100% sure that the Syrian government initiated the gassing of their own people.

4. Concisely map out a strategic way to stay out of costly war (resources and blood) for all involved if Syria is to ready to respond with everything against our bombing.

I think Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech on December 11, 1964 had it right about war when he said:

“So man’s proneness to engage in war is still a fact. But wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminated even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good. If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war…Here also we have ancient habits to deal with, vast structures of power, indescribably complicated problems to solve. But unless we abdicate our humanity altogether and succumb to fear and impotence in the presence of the weapons we have ourselves created, it is as imperative and urgent to put an end to war and violence between nations … Those of us who believe in non-violence method and finding peace can be voices of reason, sanity and understanding amid the voices of war, violence, hatred and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built. When man solves great problems he will have squared his moral progress with his scientific progress. And more importantly, he will have learned the practical art of living in harmony”.


Please tell Congress we do not want an attack on Syria and we will have ushered in a new way to solve problems beyond WAR and military might. 

Message for President Obama and Other Political Leaders On War

Open letter to President Obama and our Congressional Leaders:

A common requirement of leaders at all levels is having the courage to make tough decisions and take difficult actions. Many times this is required when the leader does not have all the evidence, information and time to wait for enlightenment. No person ever has a enough wisdom, evidence or analysis to predict the future. Usually it comes down to the best guess given the situation and information available. Many times this means relying on your “gut feeling” which is based on values, past experience and intuition. Courage may be the X factor that separates poor, mediocre and outstanding leaders. Yet, becoming a courageous leader involves a lot more than talking, rating, and or blindly trying to teach others a lesson. The dictionary definition of courage is “the state or quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face danger or fear with confidence and resolution; bravery; valor.” What does all that mean when it comes to making a decision to violently attack another nation? How does war provide answers for moral decisions? Where there are no final solutions or good answers for a situation maybe inaction or pausing is okay? In regard to striking Syria with surgical and limited bombing maybe taking a step back and exhausting all options before engaging in war is the right alternative. Who cares about a red line when our safety and security is not threatened. History teaches us that war and violence just begets more uncertainty, more war and violence. History tells us to rush into War does not need to be the first choice.

Maybe President Obama and our Congressional leaders need to reflect on JFK’s big idea and thoughts about the dangers of war itself.   JFK once warned us when he said:    “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” In my opinion we have the time to keep talking and it is time for courageous action of choosing Peace over War .

Warm Regards, Mark W. Hardwick  

Obama “plays to lose” by delaying Healthcare Implementation.

Obama Plays to Lose again. Delays Healthcare Reform implementation. This is a demonstration of ineffective and poor leadership. Some Democrats say they are stunned, blindsided, and confused that this decision was made with no information provided by the White House and while the President was in Africa.
Oh, by the way, did you know the Democrats won the election and corporations are at record high profits. Obama’s decision again puts the Democrats on defense and says to the Republicans  and naysayers on Health care reform you were right. The Republicans now have another year to try to make the delay permanent. This is another non-assertive and fearful decision by a President who has no swagger.
When we needed to push forward with a positive message and strong execution for the rights of millions without Healthcare the President looks in the mirror losses his nerve and says no we must wait.
As a progressive this is very disappointing and a big setback. I don’t want to hear more excuses of why this policy was going to be difficult to implement. What we need is an implementation team to act forcefully and implement changes as we go. All change can be difficult but it goes no where with out action. Maybe the President needs to ponder and reflect on what Peter Drucker, the father of modern Management and Leadership said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  So how do we create the future by backing away from taking constructive action on Healthcare ?
Where is the courage and confidence to say, to the foot dragging Republicans, Healthcare is a “right for all” American citizens. Want to learn more about “playing to lose vs. playing to win see Life Principle #4  from my emerging Handbook on Living a Meaningful Life.

Leadership Effect Part 1–Framework for Success 4 M’s of “AHA or WOW” Presentations


How many presentations and lectures have you heard? Probably in the thousands or too many to count.  Of these communicators how many provided some useful “take homes” or hit the high bar  called the “AHA” or  “WOW” factor? On a regular basis I survey my students and seminar audiences on this question for many years.  Their answer is that you can count them on one hand.  The critical question becomes—What makes these speakers outstanding or creates an AHA reaction.

1. They have executive presence—firm hand shake, good eye contact, dress, smile, sense of humor and inspire  us because of  a positive or touching story delivered with authenticity and passion.

2. They are high energy communicators who are speaking in common everyday language, seem approachable, confident, credible, inspirational, and connect in unique ways

3. They deliver a clear, concise, compelling, relevant, and believable message

4.Their message is memorable and retained–It’s “sticky”.

 According to many studies, public speaking is rated the number one fear of  for many people. Even ahead of death, nuclear war, the dentist, and bankruptcy. 

I want you to consider how your thoughts, mental frameworks (fear and anxieties), and assumptions effect what message is presented and how it is received.

I want you to learn how to align your message, mental attitude, mechanics, and memory so as not just survive a presentation, but to create an environment that is comfortable  inspirational, persuasive, and compelling for listeners. And in addition, a satisfying experience for you.  Our goal is to create a learning environment that facilitates the growth and development of presenters by increasing their ability to be confident performers.

We know that future behavior can be improved with openness for change, an acceptance of feedback, and a plan to overcome bad habits. We help you to identify your strengths by understanding how to align the message, mechanics, and mental game for speaking.

If our tools and techniques are used it will be easier for you to develop new habits by focusing on the identification of strengths and areas in need of improvement.  If we succeed in helping you to develop and communicate the essence of your message and increase your comfort and impact on others we will succeed in our goal as performance coaches.

The “big idea” I am talking about when looking at the way we communicate and interact is leadership.  Leaders lead with their ideas, words, and presence. The way people speak and deliver words of praise or criticism reveals their values, beliefs and philosophy of life. It is the essence of leadership.  This is what we call the “leadership effect”.  The “leadership effect” holds that leaders will be judged by the realism, authenticity, and relevance of their communications not by their position or place on the organization chart.

Like it or not, our self-awareness, mental presence, confidence (mental state), eloquent mechanics (voice, gestures, movement, body language, eye contact), and messages (verbal impact) determine how we are received and perceived by others. Leaders influence action through the art and mastery of thinking and speaking straight and naturally.


Part 2 –Obama’s Hidden Strength as a Likable Leader:Empathy

Empathy is a critical component of leadership and an effective part of being able to connect with others while still being perceived as very high on the likeability scale. Although it recently seems to be a rare commodity in political circles. Maybe this is because in difficult economic times it is best to be a seen as a leader capable of making tough decisions and thick-skinned  survivor rather than a soft-hearted romantic who would rather give a “hand-up” to those less fortunate or struggling in this period of insensitivity and every person for themselves philosophy.   The self-made man concept is rarely challenged today. Yet there  are a few voices such as Barack Obama’s who remind us, of  its importance when he says, in his best seller, The Audacity of Hope ” I think ; as a country, we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit. I believe a stronger sense of empathy would tilt the balance of our current politics in favor of those people who are struggling in this society. After all if they are like us, then there struggles are like our own. If we fail to help, we diminish ourselves.”

Daily Quote and Reflection from Eric Hoffer– STOP the extreme “True Believer” Approach to Problem Solving

Quote :“[The fanatic] fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause…We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand….By kindling and fanning violent passions in the hearts of their followers, mass movements prevent the settling of an inner balance…( and solving problems).

Reflection:  Remember Churchill’s speech asking his fellow citizens and Americans to fight on to defeat the Third Reich after Pearl Harbor ” We haven’t gone this far because we are made of sugar candy.” I believe it is time for the majority in America to stand-up and be heard and demand from Republican’s and the White House to stop making up unnecessary fights. like increasing the debt limit and start solving the real problems of America–more common sense  and common ground solutions rather than being fanatic about dogma and principle.

Message for President Obama–Is he forgetting the promises he made? His he listening to Us?

Reflection: Was this the change you wanted for America? Here we are on the brink of maybe cutting the “Big Three” of Social Security,  Medicare and Medicaid. Let’s look back at how happy we were on the evening of Obama’s victory.

 What has happened in 30 + months. He said he would never forget that the victory belong to the American people.  Is the President forgetting his promises during the election or just being a pragmatic leader? Can he still renew America or are we goin backwards?

Want to be “sticky” in Presentations? Eliminate “Fill Speech”

They are eloquent who can speak low things acutely, and of great things with dignity, and of moderate things with temper.” Cicero

When you have trouble with fill speech, this is when you try to get your mind to catch up with the words you want to convey. For example, huh! huh! Or other fillers as you try to get the right words. President Obama does this out loud ‘ self-talk” when he is speaking from note cards or off the cuff. It is a bit of a stutter as you try to find the words to explain a concept or idea to others. It happens most often when the speaker is answering a question. The solution for this problem is to pause or you silence as you collect your thoughts and words to best express yourself.   Silence is never merely the absence of words. . . . Rather it is the pause that holds together— and makes sense of—all the words, both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and our actions. Silence is the fullness, not emptiness; it is not absence, but the awareness of a presence. Silence is the element that holds everything together. Entering into silence means to enter into a space of connectedness as we wait for the void to be filled. To encounter silence is to add to your presence and confidence as a communicator.

Evaluating President Obama on Principle-Centered Leadership. What’s your score for him?

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” Margaret  J. Wheatley Leadership and the New Science

In the real world, the people who get Leadership right, again and again, are the ones that demonstrate in their actions the traits of Principle-Centered Leadership. Using these principles to guide their everyday interactions and decisions will make them a true leader of and for people, and it’s available to anyone who makes these principles “top of the mind” priority.

These principles are a powerful framework for assessing the effectiveness of leaders. It gives us insight into strengths and areas for improvement when evaluating a leader and their ability to set a compelling vision and mission for any organization and team they might be working with. More important, it sets up the opportunity for us to take stock of leaders, such as their use of values, control, selfishness and command. In concrete ways it shows if leaders are congruent in their espoused values and their actions.

Some leaders are followed out of fear or their ability to control others. But what about cresting followers by using these proven traits that make a leader someone people admire and believe in? Top 8 Characteristics of Principle-Centered Leaders (Ch 1, Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey) On a 1 being low on the trait up to 10 always demonstrating this trait how does President Obama stack up as Principle-Centered Leader. So your challenge is to check your perceptions of how President would lead when he was running for the presidency vs. your actual experience with hin as President. Is their a gap between what he said and is noe doing or his he congruent with his promises as a candidate? As we approach his two + years in office. What is President Obama’s score as a Principled-Center Leader?

1. He is a masters of live–long learning.
2. He is always looking to understand and be of service to others. (Empathy)
3. He models positive energy and calm under adversity
4. He believes in other people
5. He leads a balanced live.
6. He sees life as an adventure.
7. He is synergistic in his approach to problem solving (Thinking Win-Win)
8. He practices self-self-renewal and personal change.


Please rep[ort your scores so we can give the President our scorecard. Thanks.


Negotiation by White House Team failed! Why? Incompetence.

“The country needs & demands bold, persistent experimentation…take a method & try it: If it fails, try another.” FDR

President stepping on it. The bear trap was set and the president and his so-called negotiating team walked right into it and are now stuck. What went wrong? Let me lay out a few errors in the White House deal with Republicans:

1. President Obama talked about changing or letting the tax breaks for the wealthy expire during the campaign. He even said the “tax cuts for the wealthy offended his conscience”. (Indiana Speech on the campaign trail 2008) . Then when elected and having the political capital to do something about these taxes the White House and Congress did nothing but “kick the can” down the road. Then at the 11th hour Obama refuses to take a strong stand and hands off the negotiations to, Tim Gittner  and his Budget Director, two incompetent weak links, who caved-in to the “Party of No”.

2. White house had no negotiating strategy but to get something done. They are incompetent or disinterested in representing the people who elected him.

3. Sent VP Biden down to the Congress to tell the Democrats who had just come through a tough beating in the election. Biden’s message on the Tax Cut deal–” take it or leave it”. This is arrogant and unacceptable way to treat dully elected officials. A serious miscalculation and unacceptable and incompetent way to govern in a Democracy.

2. Republicans are now circulating a strategic memo to start calling the new tax cuts if passed the Obama tax cuts. Then when they come into power they can start screaming about the deficit and failed Obama policies.

3. Didn’t realize you can’t negotiate with a dishonest broker, someone who has a hidden agenda. or is operating to destroy you.

4. Democratic negotiating team had no vision or clear-cut goals going into the negotiation

5. President Obama is obsessed with bipartisanship at any cost. 700-900 Billion to the top 2% wealthiest people in the US.

What is next–a revolt of the true democrats and smart policy makers to not let this happen on their watch. For example, Nancy Pelosi will not let a vote happen on this horrible tax plan.

Where do you stand on this Tax Plan?


Challenge for Obama’s Presidency: What went wrong and where to go from here?

Obama caves-in and gives the Party of No another astounding victory against the majority of Americans declared opposition to wealthy tax cuts, those of us who expected an assertive and pro-active President are puzzled by his inept style of negotiating with himself before confronting the Republicans failed policies of more tax cuts, greed and accumulation of more money for the wealthy.  Obama announced yesterday to continue to play “kick the can” with the Republicans at the expense of the middle class.  It seems to me this White House does not care to or want to fight for the 84% of the Democrats who said no more tax cuts for the wealthy and no more deficit spending. This was a moment of truth for this President in the war for the soul of our Representative  Republic. He failed by looking weak and incompetent.  We must try to save him from his own tragic and ill-advised strategy of “rope a dope.”  Maybe he just wants to be known as a nice guy. But really how many punches can you take before fighting back?

Continue reading “Challenge for Obama’s Presidency: What went wrong and where to go from here?”

After the Mid-Terms: Obama’s Leadership Imperatives

"America was not built on fear. America was built  on courage, 
on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." Harry Truman 1947

As President Obama offers another olive branch and marshmallows one wonders if he understands the war for the soul of our Representative Republic he is in the mist of.  Maybe he just wants to be known as a nice guy. His new strategy is the one  he has been taking for two years-"Let's all just get along". I guarantee you this will not work when the Republicans are spouting off about the goals for their governing strategy--defeat Obama and take this country back to the future with more tax cuts for the wealthy and dismantling the New Deal cornerstones Social Security and Medicare. Maybe taking a page out of Harry Truman's  approach would suggest another and more assertive way to handle the party of "No"--Let's get the job done. Continue reading "After the Mid-Terms: Obama’s Leadership Imperatives"

To Be a Committed Leader–Dream and DO

Committed Leader by M.W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

To lead is to dream and do…

to let go of fears and criticism

to see beyond the obvious …

to give credit away…

to lead at the pleasure of followers…

to see and share a vision

to anticipate and articulate a new way forward

to be enthusiastic, passionate and on PURPOSE…

to care

to focus

to flex

to deliver

to be open-minded

to be in touch

to collobrate , cooperate and above all



and say THANK YOU, thank you, thank you…

and  PLEASE ….more often …

and…and… and … remember


The successful of the world have used their imagination. They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details…steadily building.” Robert Collier

Does Obama have the courage to step-up and emulate FDR?

I think the question for President Obama is: will he use  his big “megaphone to” to  tie the unnecessary Wars together with the need to rebuild our homeland. The power of the Presidency to humanize the economic pain being experience in America is palpable. Of course he and the Democrats are not to blame for the mess Bushy got the country in, and now they are responsible.

We don’t need to rediscover the wheel when comes to solutions. All we have to do is have the courage to do what FDR did –Put people back to work. This renewal of the FDR type of jobs program like the WPA and CCC will restore people’s faith in Government and retraining for themselves. The Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area which was about 55 miles from Washington D.C. and Baltimore,MD provide the model for integrating work with skill development. By the way the President could go take a look at this area because Camp David, the President’s weekend retreat sets within the Catoctin Mountains.

The Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects AdministrationWPA) employed millions of people to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and educational literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the the United States had a park, bridges or schools constructed by the agency. This program worked then and with a a slightly different focus on infrastructure and the creation of industrialization of green jobs it can work again to renew America. Expenditures from 1936 to 1941 totaled nearly $12 billion. See summary at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_Progress_Administration. Today, it will take about 700 billion, but we would have new roads, bridges and grid improvements and powerful green manufacturing base to get us out of this Depression or what many call the Great Recession.

  • Aligning your own party, followers and opponents takes more than awareness that CHANGE IS NEEDED. It takes being assertive to your true values and principles. It will take political courage.
  • Best vision, strategy and plans, like Health Care, Financial Reform, Education and Energy etc.,  are not enough to guarantee success for a change agenda. It is people, not plans alone that determine outcomes and results. What people need now are jobs.
  • Maslow was right about the hierarchy of needs–when the people feel a threat to their basic needs for safety and survival they become anxious, angry and often frozen in place clinging to the status quo. Current day example the say no republicans and the new reformers the Tea Party.
  • Leaders often present logical, rational and right brain change goals but this approach is limited because it by passes the critical emotional elements of  core principles based on values and passion. These elements are  essential to sell and build commitment for change.
  • Vested interest will not let go of their advantages and status without strong pressure from the leader and his followers.
  • Bipartisanship is a wonderful, if not a little Pollyanna for a pragmatist like Obama, and you need honest brokers on the other side who are committed to concept that we are all in this together and support programs and policies that are aligned with the moral imperative of the ” greatest good for the greatest number.”
  • Don’t start from a position of weakness and compromise before negotiations start. You will end up with less than what you want and are open to being seen as “soft”
  • To as successful as you want to be . You must identify sponsors and willing partners for change–From the onset of HC and Financial Services Reform the Republicans  strategy was just say NO.
  • Time is not always on your side–it taks longer to make change happen than anyone usually thinks.

But MR. President the time is now. People are hurting and need help. I know this won’t be easy to sell but the URGENCY OF NOW calls you to act.

Does White House–Know how to treat supporters with respect and dignity?

“Power has only one duty — to secure the social welfare of the People.” Benjamin Disraeli

Maybe it’s time for the “White House” to put away their rabbit ears and be less sensitive to suggestions and disappointments voiced by  the liberal or progressive left. We ar not “fucking retards”  as Mr Emanuel, Chief of Staff said. Or to paraphrase Robert Gibbs, White House Communications guru, said yesterday–Liberals don’t give the President enough credit and won’t be happy till we have a Canadian Nationalized Health Care System etc. Remember power resides with the wealthy–that’s why people say: Wealth is power, and power is the only thing about which contemporary culture cares.

I think both Gibbs and the Rahm Emanuel comments are unfortunate and maybe symbolic of the “tin ear” and strategic clumsiness of the White House Staff. Have they forgotten all the time, money and work people put in to get the President elected.  We don’t expected to be taken for granted just because we don’t have any other place to go. But we do want this President to succeed and that can not happen by compromising with ourselves, playing nice with a greedy and self-serving political opposition who have no intentions of collaborating on solutions for the worst economic problems and job crisis since the Great Depression. The  just say NO folks want the President to fail so they can return to the failed policies that caused most of these problems in the first place.

People want their leaders to be responsive and sensitive to solving real problems. The elected officials need to take responsibility for creating environments that encourage  open and respectful discussions ( not name calling), problem resolution ( not filibusters that stop constructive action on solving problems) and truth-telling ( not made-up bullshit to harm the opposition) and development of an informed and educated citizenry.  People in leadership positions set a tone for public discussions. Furthermore, our leaders need to model good behavior in which people feel valued as unique individuals.

So let’s get back to working together to build a better America. If at the very least, if you feel powerless and insecure at work and other community and organizational environments to create a civil and respectful tone, you still have the power and role when interacting with friends and family to create a positive climate of respect, growth and security. Remember, people grow in places where honesty, integrity and trust can be counted on and rewarded. What have you done lately to create a healthy environment where you work and live?