Speak like Churchill Stand Like Lincoln by James C. Humes

I do not know why I took so long to read this book. I love history and so many of the speeches and quotes had historical significance. It also made me think of speakers I have watched and how they use some of the techniques in this book.

So many of influential people in history had powerful personalities and could influence people through their personality and commanding speaking abilities rather than their physical appearance. Think Napoleon, Hitler and Churchill.

Each chapter talks about specific techniques or tools that can be used in public speaking. I think my favorite chapter was the Power Pause. By pausing before speaking it can calm an audience, gain their attention and then make eye contact with them. I think President Obama uses the Power Pause very effectively in interviews. You can feel he is giving very thoughtful responses to questions.

Another chapter that I felt was informative was the Power Opener. The purpose is to grab attention immediately, hit them with a story or the purpose of the presentation. This needs to be impactful and memorable and this same principal applies to the Power Closure. A parallel is the Opening and Closing Statements to the jurors during trial.

Some other highlights are that clothing is important, people remember clothing or accessories. Speakers should go for the classic look – solid color suits, minimal jewelry, appropriate ties and white shirts. Your clothing should not detract from your message.

Determine your message and draft it in a succinct manner. Know your audience and tailor your presentation to them. Do not give long drawn out presentations. Be brief and concise. Get to the heart of the matter. This is similar to our “bumpersticker.” Statistics should be simple, meaningful and universally understood. This section made me think of when I was a claims adjuster and plaintiff attorneys would send in a demand package of 50-100 pages in length. It was overkill and most of the time unnecessary because we already had the information to make a decision. Sending 3 pounds of paper would not sway our decision.

The author James Humes was a speechwriter and went into detail on his catalog of quotes and how to build your own set of quotes. Visual aids should complement the presentation. They should not confuse or distract from the message. Telling stories that are relevant and realistic are powerful in the opening of a presentation or to illustrate a point the presenter is trying to make during the body of the speech.

Body language and the Power of Audacity are similar. Use your body language to your advantage and do not be afraid to do something unusual to get your point across. Dare to be different and shocking. This will stick in people’s memories.

Throughout this book I see the applications to the work product at Oliver Law Firm whether it is opening and closing arguments, mediation presentations or focus groups. What we do is about influencing people/jurors and every chapter in this book applies. I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.

Winston Churchill