Commencement Addresses—going, going …

Commencement Addresses –going going .... Most of us in business are well beyond our graduation day. We may not have noticed that commencement speeches seem to be on the way to becoming a thing of the past.

Some schools have eliminated them altogether this graduation season. And many would-be commencement speakers are becoming won’t-be speakers for fear of demonstrations, disruptions, and disorder.

Corporate leaders, especially, are opting out of what they see as the downside risk involved in standing up in front of students and their families and staking out a position on, well, just about anything.


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Business Communication, Communication, Speaking

Some Like ‘em Strong and Wrong

Some like ‘em strong and wrong. It seems as true today as it was then. Former President Bill Clinton told the Democratic Leadership Council in 2002, “When people feel uncertain, they’d rather have someone strong and wrong than weak and right.” It was his post-mortem after Democrats went down to defeat in that year’s midterm elections. Fast forward to the present and notice how often you hear Donald Trump’s supporters say they’re with him because, “He’s strong.” “He’s a leader,” and “He fights.” They’re not agreeing with some arcane policy positions, they’re reacting to their perceptions of Trump’s personality. Loud, aggressive, freewheeling. And they like it.


Strong and Wrong
Business Communication, Networking, Speaking

More is Less

More is less. They say less is more. They’re right, of course, when it comes to most of our business communication…and a lot of our personal conversations as well. A friend is editing a piece of her marketing material; she mentioned she thought there’s room to pare it down. “You know,” she said, “Less is more.” Absolutely! Also, as I told her, more is less. Sometimes much less. It happens often that the more we say, the less engaged our listeners are and the less they take in, much less buy into, what we’re saying. You know this from your own experience, right?


photo of presenter talkng too much
Communication, Speaking

Talking with Your Hands

Talking with your hands My sister and I were chatting with our aunt’s neighbors at a senior residence, when one of them commented on the way I was chatting. Apparently, it involved gestures. Which is not unusual. We all use our hands when we talk. Clients sometimes tell me they think they over-use their hands. They’re usually wrong. The truth is, your hands really are almost as important as your words. And sometimes you can speak volumes with your hands. Using gestures when we speak is not only natural. It’s also highly correlated with charisma. That makes sense, right?  A speaker who stands stock still and doesn’t move their hands will be much less magnetic than a speaker who creates a visual experience for their audience as well as an auditory one. Where? Bottom line: wherever you’re talking, your gestures matter. So what gestures should you use?


business person gesrturing with hands
Networking, Speaking

The What and the How

The What and the How - The headline The Atlantic is a plaintive question. “Do Voters Care About Policy Even a Little?” The answer, contained in the subhead, appears to be a resounding “no.” “Joe Biden turned one of the highest-polling ideas in politics into reality. Few voters have even noticed.” Here’s why the president’s problem matters to you and your business. Maybe … people just aren’t paying attention to what goes on in Washington, even when it tackles problems they’ve been complaining about for years. People are just much more concerned with their own lives than any federal policy. Maybe … other issues are more important to Americans than getting a break on drug prices or getting a job because of those much-ballyhooed infrastructure projects. It’s all about the cost of groceries and gasoline. Maybe … the news media are to blame—they don’t cover what the president has to say unless they can gin up some click-generating conflict, as in the student loan issue. Another bridge being built in another red county? Big yawn. Or maybe there’s something else at work.


Photo of a smiling Joe Biden in an outdoor crowd. By Adam Schultz / Office of the President of the United States - https://www.facebook.com/POTUS/posts/404335568360079, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116431821