Public Speaking Lessons from the Masterful John Howard

As a young senior executive at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, I was regularly called upon to meet Federal politicians when they came to do talkback radio.

Talkback radio in Australia is one of a few in the world that engages with and wields enormous political power.It is more powerful here than in the US or Britain.

John Howard, the second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister knew the power of this media platform.

In the mid-90s as Leader of the Opposition in 1995 and Prime Minister in 1996, I got to meet him on several occasions and escort him to the ABC studios in Adelaide Terrace in Perth.

He was always engaging on radio and in the flesh.

I've previously analyzed Howard's great skill as a political marketer.

This time, I wanted to look at his speaking skills.

Here's an analysis of hearing him up close and personal recently at a private breakfast in Perth.

 1. The Look and Wardrobe

He still wears the power dress of dark suit, white shirt and red tie.

He wore cufflinks and did his jacket up.

At age 75 years, he looked fit and tanned.

2. The Memory and No Notes

Howard suffered a hearing impairment in his youth and he continues to wear a hearing aid.

This encouraged him to develop an excellent memory. A tool he still uses today.

By relying on memory, this allowed him not to wear glasses.

3. The Eye Contact

His eye contact with the audience was excellent.

This has been a skill developed over a lifetime of giving speeches and this is a learned skill anyone can master with enough practice.

4. The Loud Voice with Variety

Even up the back of the room everyone could hear him.

Excellent projection, tone, timbre and control.

5. The Rapport Building

In this speech he acknowledged the influencers in the room, like former Premier Richard Court and veteran businessman Harold Clough.

6. The Language

You can tell he is a trained lawyer and masterful with words.

7. Stance

John Howard is considered short, even though he reportedly is of average height at 176.5cm.

The way he stood at podium made him appear taller.

8. Body Language

What stood out was his expansive use of arms and body.

When he used the term "huge breakthrough" he pushed his arms forward congruent with his message.

When he talked about supply and demand curves, he crossed his arms to illustrate two lines in a graph crossing.

Very subtle but worked in context.

9. Use of Metaphors

"He could intercept a ball and run for the try line like the best of them," was more memorable one when  describing the talent of fellow colleagues.

10. Finish on a Strong Point

His closer was very strong.

Please consider my next public speaking seminar on Tuesday November 25th 930am to 1pm. Book here.

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