Why 'Folksiness' Works in Speeches
In advance of his State of the Union address, President Obama's advisers said he decided to use the occasion to speak directly to the American people rather than focusing on a deadlocked Congress.
But the speech’s impact may have had just as much to do with the President’s decision to speak like the American people as it did to speak to them. It’s one element of the televised address that employers may want to adopt unanimously.
Obama favored a stripped-down delivery style, resulting in a speech that many pundits hailed as more plainspoken--and evocative--than previous installments of the annual Congressional oratory.
“If I’ve got a message that I want to get across, I want to deliver it in a manner that’s easiest for the audience to grasp and understand,” said New York-based communications expert McAdory Lipscomb Jr., who coaches business leaders in public speaking.
A positive emotional response from the audience when using this tactic, he said, is no accident.
“[The audience] is not having to work as hard to keep up, and it also means they’re more engaged in hearing what the next point may be. That kind of delivery is bonding,” he added.
When it comes to speaking to a group of employees or giving a presentation, Lipscomb has a few tips.
He cautions leaders to avoid using jargon as a tool-- it does not, in fact, make you sound more relatable. Jargon can sabotage your message, distract people who aren't familiar with it, and sometimes make people cringe.
A better tactic for speakers, he says, is to deconstruct a message into terms that are "granular" rather than foisting huge ideas on an audience at one time.
Brief silences, also, should be valued as time for listeners to comprehend, rather than viewed as airtime that needs to be filled.
Ultimately, says Lipscomb, an audience member's response to a speaker may have as much to do with the relationship established through delivery as the message itself.
“Your four-hundredth time delivering it has to sound as fresh, original, unique, and enthusiastic as the first time you said it," he added. "Everyone in that large audience needs to think they’re having a one-on-one conversation.”