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.