The Winning Voice

Best in class communication techniques from Michael Kelly

Here’s what you can learn from A. Lincoln’s oratory

Much has been said and written about the oratory and leadership skill of Abraham Lincoln.

Still, Lincoln’s speaking and approach to leading are worth revisiting. His speaking and his leading approaches are timeless – and are guideposts, as you progress along the path to becoming a better speaker, presenter and leader.

Here are Comments about Lincoln from his contemporaries.

These comments particularly resonated with me:

  • ”The President looked someone worn and fatigued and remained seated a portion of the evening, but was in good spirits and had a pleasant word for everyone.’
  • ‘Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other.’
  • ‘Lincoln had great respect for the superior knowledge and culture of other persons.’

    But he did not stand in awe of them.

  • ‘Mr Lincoln’s eloquence was of a higher type, which produced conviction in others because of the conviction of the speaker himself.’
  • ‘Lincoln is eloquent in his own way. He can speak a long time and utter no idle words.’

And these also resonated:

  • ‘He was never quite as sad as he looked, and amid his heaviest responsibilities he generally decorated the situation with a story, an allegory, or a joke . . .’
  • ‘I thought him always a master of his subject – He was a much more self possessed man than I thought. He thought for himself, which is a rare quality nowadays’.
  • ‘Mr Lincoln was an extremely strong man when in the Right – the most sincere & powerful man I ever saw. His sincerity was all over his face, integrity & honor were there.’

Below are thoughts on some of the comments:

*In relation to ‘But he did not stand in awe of them’, here is my post – Let the other person blow their stack – about the landmark book, by David Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big, It will give you practical suggestions on how not, to stand in awe of anyone.

*In relation to ‘He can speak a long time and utter no idle words’, here is a a deconstruction of The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White. One piece of advice from the deconstruction is, ‘Omit needless words.’

*In relation to ‘He thought for himself, which is a rare quality nowadays’, click on my post – Are you marinating in conventional wisdom? – which contains a vignette from a speech by essayist William Deresiewicz  to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point.


Own the Conversation

What, of the above comments, most resonates with you? Choose a specific upcoming interaction, meeting or presentation and make a goal to implement one idea or technique.

It might be to omit a needless word, or to not stand in awe of anyone, or decorate your messages with a story, or to speak with an added dose of conviction.


p.s. Check out this post entitled, Be courageous – don’t wait for permission.

#You might want to trial my Confident Personal Communication video learning programme because it will give you practical techniques to ‘Own the Conversation’.

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