In May 2014, fairly early in the recent Presidential election campaign, Oconomowoc in Wisconsin was the venue for a speech by Monica Crowley.
About eighteen months ago I hugely enjoyed a short season of seeking out and critiquing some ballsy speeches by American women who had the ability and courage to speak their minds. How on earth did I miss Monica Crowley?
A bald opening! I love bald openings. When I recommend to my trainees that they give them a try, I am very often met with incredulity. This is because people assume that waffling through a period of largely meaningless preamble is a good way to smooth your way in. I counter with pointing out that creeping slowly down the steps into a cold swimming pool seems like a good way to smooth your way in, but isn’t.
One ingredient in many preambles is an audience schmooze. Crowley understands its value, but instead of opening with it before the audience has fully settled she holds it back for half a minute, primes them a little and then hits them. You may find it icky, you may roll your eyes, but you’re not in that audience. She has timed and tailored it specifically to that audience, they love it, and she knew they would. We’re watching a pro at work.
The move from the schmooze to the serious business is seamless. You can’t see the join, but you can hear how suddenly the audience has gone quiet. She’s got them where she wants them and they are listening. She’s good!
Some of her message is tough, but she contrives never to sound tough. Brimful of conviction, strong on facts and logic, but always approachable not tough.
It’s an impressive speech. She has sincerity and passion, and she knows how to use both to put the moral case for freedom.