Learning from a successful speaker

Tips for Speakers
Training Note

Learning from a successful speaker

“A great speaker is firstly a great person who happens to speak well” Aristotle

Lessons from Dr Norman Vincent Peal

In 1969 Dr Peal spoke to us in Johannesburg on the subject of “Why positive people get positive results.” I still remember the MC who introduced him saying “Norman Vincent Peal … that means Naturally Very Positive.”
After his talk to an audience of about 5000 people at Mill Park Stadium, I asked him if he ever felt nervous talking to such a large crowd. He answered, “Young man, if I didn’t feel some adrenalin flowing, I would be worried.” He went on to explain that by controlling nervous tension a speaker will always give a better talk rather than being too relaxed or blasé and offering a mediocre performance. Almost like what we say at Toastmasters, “We don’t remove the butterflies, we just get them to fly in formation.”

He also stressed the importance of “Walking your talk”, that you should be a living example of your message, what we also refer to as being credible. His book The Power of Positive Thinking influenced the lives of people all over the world.

As a professional speaker he taught that when an audience member gives you a business card, respond within 24 hours. Even if only to thank him or her for meeting with you, the speaker
Another lesson from Dr. Peal was how he encouraged me to keep on practicing to become a good speaker. Later on I discovered that he was a great encourager. Now I realize that all great people are not afraid to help others, in fact, they delight in your progress. Later on in his life he started a monthly newsletter called “Guideposts” with articles mainly about people who had overcome major setbacks through applying the concept of positive thinking.
Dr. Peal started speaking when he was only seventeen years old, he spoke to the Boy’s Congress in every county in Ohio. He was inspired to speak when he heard the great orator, William Jennings Bryan in New York. This is when he noticed that Bryan was a master of the pause. He would stop after a magnificent point, pour a glass of water, letting the audience think over his message, take a sip and continue with his message. The lessons we learn are that budding speakers grab every opportunity to speak, they never stop learning from others, and apply new ideas and techniques to their own performances.

In summary

Walk your talk and practice what you preach
Be a credible source of information
Respond positively toward all the people you meet, Dr. Peal was a humble person.
Be an encourager
Notice what works for other speakers and apply these techniques to your performances.
And lastly, have fun and use appropriate humor, Dr. Peal had a gift for telling entertaining and humorous stories.

To your success in communication and leadership

Martin Louw DTM ‘85

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