In July 2019 – while Trump was still US President and before Covid sent the world mad – the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University held their 2019 Western Conservative Summit. Speaking at it was Larry Elder.
When you have a radio show with a daily audience of 1.5 million, a paltry couple of thousand in a stadium is nothing. So why does he show such clear nerve symptoms – especially during his Hump? It is because the two media are completely different, and if you ever doubted it here is your evidence. For a couple of minutes he is rushing his words, stumbling and showing that he is far from comfortable. This man can speak, as we will discover, but he has had not enough need to learn nerve-control techniques in this specific medium. However many millions of ears are customarily on the other side of your radio microphone, public speaking remains a foreign country – and vice versa.
He noticeably relaxes as he begins to talk about how he got into radio. At the front of this story, which he has evidently told often, he gets a well-deserved laugh. Hump starts receding.
It’s not just the audience’s bestowing the laugh, though that is a powerful drug, it’s that he is telling a story. Stories grab audiences and relax them, and there are few things more effective at relaxing a speaker than a relaxed audience. You can clearly see his nerves melting away till he hits us at 2:00 with a beautiful punchline, and thereafter he’s on a roll, if still rather edgy and nervous.
At 9:30 he begins another story which takes the whole of the rest of his time. It concerns his difficult relationship with his father. It’s a good story with another excellent punchline with which he concludes the speech.
Larry Elder is articulate and coherent. His communication armoury is very well stocked, and I’m not surprised he has such a large audience for his radio programme; but if he plans much more speaking before live audiences he owes it to his own sanity to familiarise himself with the different techniques.