Is Being Too Polished a Public Speaker Bad?

Some are born with it. Others practice a lot. Establishing a visceral connection with an intended audience is paramount to the success of any public speaker.

Watching the 2016 presidential debates can be good lessons learned when it comes to public speaking in corporate life. A schmorgesborg of styles are hitting the TV airwaves among the candidates of both parties. Some are slow talkers, others quick, and some are just loud.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during a CNN televised Republican debate. Photo credit: Salon.com.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during a CNN televised Republican debate. Photo credit: Salon.com.

So what about being too polished? Could that be a bad thing? We train corporate spokespeople to take command of the issues and the stage. In other words, teach them to come across poised, and yes, polished too. Apparently that is a bad thing, at least when it comes to politics.

It was a surprise to many PR folks that GOP candidate Sen. Marco Rubio was criticized for being too eloquent of a speaker. Some likely voters used the word “robotic” to describe the Florida junior senator. Even the New York Timesacknowledged this trait in a recent op-ed titled, “Marco Rubio Is Robotic, but Not Out of It.” Many other media outlets reported on Rubio’s mechanical demeanor as well.

It’s easy to understand that not having a “connection” with an audience can be detrimental. One example of a flawless presenter is Joel Osteen. Watching the pastor deliver a sermon to the thousands in attendance of his Texas-based Lakewood Church is quite amazing.

It really boils down to authenticity, or in other words, being real. Mostly all communications, especially via social media and video, is about delivering a message that directly speaks to is intended audience. That’s the key to success for so many viral videos and posts.

Effective public speaking—to customers, investors and other corporate audiences—certainly can help business careers. A Harris survey on behalf of cloud-based presentation platform company Prezi reported that 70 percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. Coincidentally, 75% of the presenters surveyed indicated that they would like to improve their presentation skills.

The work never ends, and we all agree that practice makes perfect. For Marco Rubio, he has acknowledged his machinelike nature and plans on being more “real” among likely voters. Ironically, this level of skill may require less rehearsing and more speaking “off the cuff,” which may present its own set of problems.

Public Option is Why Healthcare Reform Will Fail

Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), left, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), left, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted down two amendments that included some form of a public option to healthcare reform legislation.   Proposals by Sens. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) were defeated by 15-8 and 13-10 margins, respectively.   

Both defeats come just two weeks after Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the finance committee, released his own healthcare bill that did not include a new government insurance plan to compete with private insurers.   

While Mr. Baucus and Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) voted against both public option proposals, Sens. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) voted against the first amendment, but supported the second.  Schumer’s bill was the more conservative of the two, appealing to the Senate Finance Committee’s mostly old school membership.   

Is the public option DOA with the finance committee?  On the contrary, a more conservative government-run plan may actually fly but not get the votes of Republicans, who coincidentally, voted yesterday against both amendments.    

Passage of a health care bill without including a government-run program will be seen as a failure to President Obama, even though his administration did not lobby strongly for a public option.  It’s now in the hands of the Democratic majority in Congress.   

Most Americans want to see a public option in health care reform legislation.  Republicans however seemed to have voted against public option proposals primarily based on party politics rather than political ideology.   

There is an upside however. Even though a public option failed to pass through the Senate Finance Committee, three healthcare reform bills in the House and one from the Senate Health Committee, already include some form of a government-run plan or public option.  Let’s hope the American people get what they want.