“The pen is mightier than the sword” and the voice trumps both.
Our voice is one of the most important attributes we possess. Whilst some may be born with the gift of eloquence, for the large majority, effective and convincing communication is a skill to be learnt and mastered.
One of our Aspire professors, Dr. Sam Potolicchio, who was named one of “America’s Best Professors” by the Princeton Review, is an expert in political communications. Politics being the realm of rhetoric par excellence, who better than Dr. Potolicchio to teach at Aspire about the real power of speech.
During my Aspire experience, Dr. Potolicchio’s seminar most influenced me and considerably shaped the way I now think about public speaking and communication in general. In this blog post I reiterate a few of the remarkable points I took away from that memorable seminar.
When speaking, it is always important to take into account your audience.
Who are you speaking to? Do these people share the same views as you? What does this public expect from you?
Having these questions in mind before beginning to talk in any situation is essential. For instance, if you are charged with giving a scientific report to a group of non-scientists how do you proceed? For starters, if you do not lose your specific technical jargon your audience will have a very hard time understanding you and grasping the core message of your presentation. Always think about your target audience – their knowledge about the subject you are presenting, their limitations… Oftentimes the easiest way to get through is to talk in such a way that is tailored to all.
It is also important to engage with your audience constantly and not give the impression that you are talking from a position of detached superiority. Your overall posture is key! The first few seconds when you enter a room are often the most important and shape the way you are perceived – first impressions last and are hard to change! When speaking, it is important to never forget that you are addressing a public and that this requires a certain stance and attitude. Do not slouch, do not keep your hands in your pockets… Do not look disinterested!
Actively engage with the public and walk around freely, if possible, by creating eye contact and seeming cordial. All these features add to what Dr. Potolicchio emphasised during his seminar as being paramount : charisma.
Dr. Potolicchio illustrated his point with the example of Tom Hanks, known as America’s sweetheart. Yet how did Mr. Hanks gain this title ? Apart from his indisputable acting talents, Hanks wooed his audiences with his charisma, and mainly his effective story-telling skills. Dr. Potolicchio helped us understand how Hanks conducts himself in interviews. His lightheartedness, his self-deprecating humor, his ability to actively integrate his interlocutor within his talk and build suspense in his story-telling. Hanks has mastered the art of being likeable – an important achievement in and of itself.
This blog post has only provided you with a taste of what you will learn at Aspire!
If you are interested in expanding your horizons and challenging yourself and those around you, in consolidating meaningful relationships with bright, driven individuals then apply to Aspire by clicking here. Applications are open for another week !
Aspire will provide you with the tools not only to improve your public speaking, thanks to renown speakers, but will challenge you continuously.
We avidly await your application!