What fundraisers can learn from Bill Clinton

publication date: Apr 23, 2013
author/source: Cathy Sobocan

Bill Clinton is often described as one of the best public speakers of our time. He has the ability to charm the audience into joining him in his point of view. How does he do it?Cathy Sobocan photo

There are two components to his greatness as a communicator. 

What he says

  • Clinton builds his speech around one idea – for example, “Barack Obama is the best choice for president for the middle class.” In journalism we call this a “focus statement.”
  • He uses a balance of personal stories and scientific data –researched facts from credible sources – to back up his focus statement.
  • He often improvises part of what he says.
  • His language is easy to understand and conversational.

How he says it

  • He shares himself with his audience as if he’s speaking to a friend or a neighbor.
  • He “invites people in” when he speaks. Think of opening your door to welcome a special guest. Clinton keeps that same positive, welcoming attitude throughout his talk.
  • It’s as though he is speaking to each person in the audience one to one. That comes from inviting people in.
  • He’s folksy and down to earth.
  • He’s fully “present.” He’s not talking at the audience as if he were superior to them. He feels the response of the audience and he feeds off of their energy. There is a give and take.
  • He feeds on the energy of every moment.
  • He believes in his message. Therefore he easily connects on an emotional level.
  • He understands and respects his audience.

Did you know?

Note that Bill Clinton had to work on his voice and presentation skills. During his first presidential campaign he almost lost his voice and wasn’t all that impressive as a speaker! A speech therapist was hired to travel with him on his campaign and work with him on his voice.

Watch and listen to Bill Clinton here.

The author, Cathy Sobocan, will speak on The Art of Public Speaking for Fundraisers at AFP Toronto’s Fundraising Day.

Cathy Sobocan brings over 20 years of radio and television broadcasting and teaching experience to her work as a public speaking and presentation skills coach.  With graduate degrees in journalism and voice teaching, she trained in the theatre department at York University, the Stratford Festival, Second City, among others. She’s a part-time announcer on JAZZ FM Radio in Toronto and owner of Raise Your Voice Coaching.

Cathy has coached CEOs, actors, Olympic athletes, speakers, and people who simply want to improve their voices.  She’s proud to be the voice coach of the TEDx conference in Toronto. Contact her at 416-388-1165, by email, or through www.raiseyourvoicecoaching.com

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