Friday, January 14, 2011

Connecting with Emotion

We can learn many lessons from the Tragedy in Tucson. I won't try to enumerate them here. I will leave that to others more eloquent than I and simply join in mourning the loss of so many cherished lives and hopes and dreams.

President Obama's talk at the Arizona memorial service for the shooting victims of this horrific rampage has been widely hailed as "pitch perfect" by pundits and politicians across the spectrum of popular opinion. It worked for a lot of reasons. Above all, I think it worked because the President connected emotionally with the audience at the University of Arizona and with all of us watching on television.

Watch the speech on You Tube. Throughout he personalizes the victims as real people. Then, at 25:30 into the speech, he speaks of Christina, the lovely 9-year old girl who lost her life. For one of the rare times in his presidency, he spoke directly from his heart to our hearts, as a father first, then as a President. You could see the President catch himself, almost as if the enormity of the loss of that extraordinary young life hit him for the first time, as the father of his own 9-year old girl. It was a moment of genuine emotion we've rarely seen him share in public.

He did an excellent job in his speech and properly honored the dead with his measured and magnificent message. His tone was reverent, respectful and restrained.

There was another example of extraordinary communication yesterday on the evening news with Brian Williams of NBC.

It was a brief interview with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She described visiting her friend, Congresswoman Giffords, in the hospital. She paints a picture for us of the miraculous moment Gabby Giffords opened her eyes for the first time since the shooting.

Go watch and listen to Senator Gillibrand in the link below.

This is what I call "all-in speaking". When someone is mentally, physically and emotionally connected with their message to the point where you feel it's coming from their soul. Obviously she was amped up from relating a personal and tremendously emotional experience with a friend she loves who has been enduring a trip to hell and back.

The moment is instructive from a communication perspective. This was Kirsten Gillibrand at her absolute best as a communicator. She owned her stage, her message and herself.

Could she be this good in other communication situations? Absolutely! If she chooses to do so. The same as the rest of us.

It's not about skill - it's about choices. Yesterday Senator Gillibrand did it without trying. Her thoughts just poured out of her. Yet she could also achieve the same emotional connection with the audience by design.

Commit to your message. Own it. If you speak as President Obama and Senator Gillibrand did (from your head, heart and gut), you will connect with any audience, anytime, anywhere, on anything. Take a look and see what you think.

God didn't make the President and the Senator good communicators. They had to earn it. You can too.

No comments:

Post a Comment