Public Speaking Tip from Malcolm X

Today is the birthday of Malcolm X who was known for his ability to move an audience with his passion. He said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

And it’s a good point about public speaking. All this talk about public speaking is for nothing if you don’t use it as a tool of leadership.  We speak because we’re trying to connect with people and move them somewhere.

So when you’re speaking, take a position and defend it. 

I once heard a Senior Vice President for a large company rehearsing for a presentation. He was laying out the reasons why a particular program for a company needed to be cut off.  But he was avoiding saying “Let’s end this program.”

I said, “I sounds like you think they need to end this program.”

“Yes,” he said.

“But you never explicitly say, ‘Let’s end this program.'”

He said he was worried about the political implications of taking such a stand. He wanted to lay out the problems with the program and hope the audience members would reach the conclusion on their own.

I understand how he feels. Leadership takes courage. Good speaking takes courage.

Malcolm knew that.

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