If you want public speaking tips, what are the ten ideas you can learn from former US President Ronald Reagan, known as ‘The Great Communicator’?
The news of the death of former US President Ronald Reagan at the age of 93 in June 2004 has once again focused world attention on both his achievements and his great communication skills.
So what can we learn about Reagan’s life, business, and success?
Well, after reading the accolades that have been showered on the man they called ‘The Great Communicator’, here are my 10 thoughts.
1. YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD
While most people are enjoying retirement, others are reaching the height of their power and influence. At the age of 69, Reagan was the oldest person to become President of the United States.
What do you plan to do at that age?
2. THE ‘NANCY FACTOR’
There is a saying that behind every great man, there is an even better woman. Reagan knew his strengths and, more importantly, his weaknesses, such as a lack of attention to detail. His wife Nancy made up for this and they became an ‘unbreakable and unbreakable couple’.
This highlights the power of a good relationship with a life partner.
3. A RICH AND VARIED LIFE
Reagan had a rich and deep well of life experiences from which to draw. The shoe-sales dad, the economic realities of the 1930s Depression, and, at 25, the thrill and drama of being a skilled sportscaster.
All of these experiences helped shape his values, beliefs, and ability to communicate with the public.
4. HUMOR AND HUMILITY
Despite initial success and attraction to Hollywood as a second-rate actor, Reagan never forgot his roots.
About the assassination attempt on his life in March 1981, he later turned to his wife in the emergency room and said, “Honey, I forgot to bend over.”
5. INSTANTLY LIKEABLE
Like many people with charisma and charm, Reagan had the rare ability to establish an instant rapport with the people he met. He connected with people on a personal level and people appreciated him for it.
How can you use charisma to build your personal brand?
6. UNIQUE CONCEPTS
While many have criticized his lack of detail and intellectual rigor, Reagan’s great gift as a communicator was to take the complex, as a solution to the Cold War, and make it seem simple to the masses.
Like Clinton’s oft-quoted comment, “It’s the economy, stupid,” Reagan was a master at delivering simple concepts that everyone could understand.
7. HOLLYWOOD STYLE
Reagan knows how to dress, mingle with the right people, and manage his image. Skills learned early in the cut-throat world of the Hollywood film industry.
8. ATTENTION TO DETAIL
There are reports that Reagan’s reign as president was strictly scripted and managed. So what if there were chalk marks on the stage describing where to stand and your use of cue cards as memory joggers before important meetings? Her experience had taught him the importance of attention to detail. Sportscasters around the world are meticulous in their approach to big games. Reagan approached presidential duties in the same way.
These are the little things that can make a big difference in the impact of your message.
9. THE RARE ABILITY TO MOVE PEOPLE TO ACTION THROUGH THE SPOKEN WORD
Of the millions of presentations that are given every day, few achieve this goal. However, I think it should be the result of each speech.
Reagan had it. An online biography of ‘The New Book of Knowledge’ delves into this rare ability.
“As a freshman, Reagan participated in a student strike that resulted in the resignation of the university president, who had proposed cutting curriculum and faculty due to funding shortages. Reagan delivered the keynote address at a rally which won support for the strike from almost all the students. He later said that he learned then what it was like to be successful with an audience. His skill with audiences would be a major factor in his successes in later life.” (Source: http://www.grolier.com [http://ap.grolier.com] )
10. UNMISSABLE OPTIMISM
Research shows that optimism is a learned skill and that optimistic people achieve more in life.
This is the quality I most admire in Reagan. He had it to the end, as evidenced by this quote delivered on November 5, 1994, announcing that he had Alzheimer’s disease.
“In closing, let me thank the American people for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will go away with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me to the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”