Are you a great Public Speaker?



Did you know that there’s an event labelled  National Employment Week? No, I didn’t either!  Until a couple of weeks ago when I received an invitation to a conference in the National Convention Centre. It’s the building with the glass nose jutting out along the north quays, the architectural legacy of the Celtic Tiger.

The conference was organised by Sigmar Recruitment and Robert MacGiolla Phadraig (MD of Sigmar) took up the MC role.  To give it some oomph the opening address was made by Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach.  The working assumption is that business people need an uplifting political address at the front end of a conference to kick-start their thinking. So far, so normal.

Politician’s University: I’m predicting that the next whistleblower controversy will be as follows:  a secret ‘School for Public Representatives’ will be exposed. When Lesson 101 (on Public Speaking), is posted on the internet it will contain the following directions to all politicians tasked with making a speech: “Whoever ‘invites’ you to a gig needs to get special mention.  And, not just once”.  To demonstrate how this dastardly idea works in practice, Enda’s ‘talk’ at the National Employment Week gig is captured below.  For mental health considerations, I have not reproduced the entire address…

Opening… Thank you ROBERT. I am delighted to be here to… (quickly consults notes to reaffirm place & meeting purpose…).

Unemployment has fallen to 13.5%.

Trend is positive – down from 15%.

Yes, ROBERT, that’s down from 15%.

58,000 more people are in work since…

ROBERT, that’s 58,000 more people.

(It was getting confusing. Were 116,000 people off the live register now?)

We’re approaching the European norm.

And behind every statistic is a real person.

ROBERT, that’s what I’m saying about both people and statistics.

Several hundred (that’s what it felt like) additional points were made, many of which seemed un-related to employment. The banking crisis, trips to the Middle East, European politics, the university model, availability of credit, personal insolvency, getting rid of the Troika and so on. I was beginning to wish I’d taken that 2nd egg onboard for breakfast – you’d need the extra iron. The woman beside me was clapping like a crazed chipmunk, just to keep her circulation going.

ROBERT, that’s exactly what I’m saying about these sorts of issues.

Now, where I come from, in the West of Ireland ROBERT… (this phrase repeated three times during the pitch)… as a segue into another ‘employment free’ point.

Getting Near the End...The Taoiseach, doing a passable imitation of a Cheerleader for the  Mayo Ladies Camogie team, stated that we need hope. Yes ROBERT, HOPE, that’s what we need.  Perhaps it would be too much for the audience to hope for a half-decent address by our leader of the free world? Feck it, I should have gone for Egg #2.

Actual Ending…The following ‘challenge’ was then issued to (you’ve guessed it), ROBERT. If some good ideas emerged at the conference, ROBERT could meet the Taoiseach privately and these would become part of government policy. At some unspecified future point, ROBERT would then cycle back to the Taoiseach to make sure that there was ‘no slippage’. On the assumption that the Taoiseach goes to a lot of similar gigs, there must be a long line of people queuing outside his office with ‘suggestion’ lists and multi-coloured project plans.  Or perhaps there is some new PR advisor helping the Taoiseach to become authentic, using the tagline ‘The Listening Leader’ and he doesn’t really mean any of this shit. You couldn’t make it up.

So What? The Questions are as follows...

  1. For Them: Who writes this drivel? Politicians deliver too many speeches to be expected to craft their own materials. Someone should tell senior civil servants that 283 Really Important Issues is a tad overkill – particularly when circa 273 of them are off-point.
  2. For Him (Barack Obama): About 18 months ago,  Enda Kenny was accused of stealing ‘speech’ material from the American President. That was not a crime; it was a move which now makes perfect sense. I’m offering myself as a character witness for Enda if this one goes to court. Tell the Americans: don’t worry about foreign direct investment. Just loan us one of your speechwriters. We’ll find an Irish ‘8th cousin’ for her/him to make them feel they are coming ‘home’.
  3. For You: Like driving or typing or playing piano or handgliding, you can learn to become a great public speaker. This is possible even if you are a raving introvert. And it’s necessary because, without this critical skill, you’re goosed on the career front. Unless, of course you become a politician! Then it seems to offer no barrier at all to career success. All you have to do is insert the word ROBERT (substitute some other name as required) 82 times into each address you make and it will be grand! But,  assuming that you have to learn to present coherently, stop stalling on this and get it sorted! It should take you about 20-25 hours of practice with a good tutor. And you will keep this benefit in place for life. Not a bad deal!

Now, I just want to open the email and see if there are any new conference invites….


Hey, get your own speech material...

Hey, get your own speech material…

For Balance: While I had to leave the conference at lunchtime, the later morning sessions were well-organised with some  excellent contributions.

PPS: Lighter Moment. Feedback on last week’s Blog  (how to become a good writer). Four-word reviews of the movie Kramer v. Kramer suggested by Brendan Moran…

1.       Divorce be with you

2.       I’ll bet Kramer wins

3.       Same name blame game

4.       Kramer 1 – Kramer 0

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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