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

Chapter 8: Delivering the Message

Overview

Real communication is an attitude, an environment. It's the most interactive of all processes. It requires countless hours of eyeball-to-eyeball back and forth. It involves more listening than talking. It is a constant, interactive process aimed at [creating] consensus.

Jack Welch
Stuart Crainer, Business the Jack Welch Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Turnaround King (New York: AMACOM, 1999), p. 107.

She was not beautiful. She was overweight. She was confined to a wheelchair. And she was one of the most dynamic speakers of her age.

Despite her cosmetic challenges, Barbara Jordan had the voice. You only had to hear it once to never forget its powerful resonance. Her diction was always precise, clear, instructional, and at times reverential. She spoke with the conviction of a preacher, but the insight of a scholar. Born to a poor black sharecropper, she earned a law degree from the University of Texas and became a law professor there. She represented her Texas district in Congress in the 1970s and served for a number of terms until her health forced her to retire.

The important thing to remember about Barbara Jordan is that she was a speaker's speaker. Where others are professional, she was artful. Where others are sincere, she was passionate. Where others are intellectual, she was a scholar. Where others are sensitive, she was human. And it is important to remember that while at first glance she might appear to be something other than what she was, the moment she spoke was the moment the audience listened.

Her eloquence was particularly piercing during Watergate. She sat on the Impeachment Committee that weighed the evidence against President Nixon. In those dark days of government, her words and her voice served as reminders that one of the strengths of our country is its adherence to law and the pursuit of justice.

When Congresswoman Jordan spoke, she created moments of truth. These result when a speaker's message and content meet the expectations of the audience live and on stage for all to see. How can you prepare for such moments of truth? Well, as the old man said when asked the way to Carnegie Hall, "Practice, practice, practice!"


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