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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Chapter 2: Who Are You . . . and Why Are You Talking to Me?

Overview

So what ties us together? We're tied together by our belief in political democracy. We're tied together by our belief in religious freedom. We're tied together by our belief in capitalism. . . . We're tied together because we respect human life. We're tied together because we respect the rule of law. Those are the group of ideas that make us Americans.

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani, "Text of Mayor Giuliani's Farewell Address," New York Times, Dec. 27, 2001.

There is a striking moment in the movie Patton where George C. Scott speaks stirringly, almost poetically, about the warrior culture and the sacrifice it takes to be a soldier. In that instant, you can catch a glimpse of what it means to be a leader speaking to a group of followers. Here is Patton, the archetype of the American general, expounding on his theory of the warrior in history. He is confident, purposeful, and very direct. In short, he is a man who knows who he is and why he is speaking. That is the moment of awareness that every leadership speaker should strive to achieve.

Switch to another scene: Oprah Winfrey on the set of her TV studio. She alternates between calmness and enthusiasm, joy and sadness, fun and seriousness. Ms. Winfrey is a world away from a fictionalized George Patton, but she is every bit as dynamic and in control as he was—and maybe more so. She is a speaker who possesses the moment of awareness. She knows who she is and what her message is.

Patton and Winfrey are not unique. Every good leader-presenter possesses a high degree of self-awareness mixed with self-understanding of his or her role as a communicator. To many, the following questions may seem obvious, but until the framework for speaking is defined, the message cannot be clear. In this chapter, we will explore two concepts:

  • Who are you as a leadership communicator (e.g., a presenter, a coach, or something else)?

  • Why are you speaking to me?


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