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Authenticity & Passion: Two of the Greatest Qualities to Invoke as a Speaker…


Senator John McCain’s Concession Speech to supporters in November 2008 – arguably the best speech of his career: “The American People have spoken and they have spoken clearly”.

In November 2008 Senator John McCain finally conceded defeat to Barack Obama after a long and gruelling Presidential Campaign.

Ironically, from a speech-analysis point of view, this was arguably the best speech of his campaign and of his career; he’s a man hitherto not renowned for his great capability as a speaker and as a communicator.

Delivered with grace, poise and humility – and at the very point of defeat – McCain comes across as composed, relaxed and sincere. At last it would seem he is finally able to drop his guard – to stop worrying if you like – and to truly be himself.

If only he had run his campaign back to front!

Whatever your politics, if you watch the clip on YouTube, you will witness a speaker being truly authentic – and what a difference being able to project that quality makes.

Here at Working Voices we often Coach about the aspirational qualities of ‘authenticity’ – and the very positive impact that being able to invoke this particular quality will have, on how an audience will perceive you as a speaker/communicator:

If you are relaxed in your own body language and able to be true to yourself in terms of invoking your own values and passions whilst communicating (i.e able to be truly authentic) then this is without doubt one of the most powerful ways to infect an audience and take them with you.

McCain is, by the way, an interesting character study in terms of his communication skills. His capture and subsequent torture during the Vietnam War left him with certain physical limitations, one of which was the inability to lift his arms above shoulder level.

This is why, as you’ll notice, he often gestures immediately in front of himself with his arms held quite low – compared to other speakers – and often accompanied by a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘hands held out’ gesture to either acknowledge or placate an audience. So in itself, this way of gesturing actually represents a highly authentic choice for him as a speaker.

So as a final coaching tip: Invoke the best of yourself – do whatever comes naturally – and you will invariably come across well.

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