Speaker's Digest 

June 2018


In this issue:

  • Our Favorite Commencement Speaker: Cory Booker
  • Evaluating Speakers Using the Vocal Variety Factor
  • How to Tell a Story—and WHY


One of our favorite things about this season is that we get to watch all of the commencement addresses given at college graduation ceremonies across the country. In many cases, these colleges and universities choose distinguished alumni or other people in the public eye that they want to honor. This year, we saw a range of politicians, media personalities, musicians, actors and business leaders deliver their messages to the Class of 2018.


There’s a lot to learn by watching these presenters, many of whom are speaking in difficult venues (like Yankee Stadium) to very large crowds. How do they hold the attention of audiences sitting in the hot sun? This month, we share with you our favorite of the bunch, our thoughts on how effectively some of the speakers use vocal variety, and some tips on how to tell better stories when you present. Enjoy!



Our Favorite Commencement Speaker: Cory Booker

There are so many reasons why Sen. Cory Booker’s commencement address was our favorite one delivered to the Class of 2018. He held our attention for a full 26 minutes, mesmerized us with his stories, inspired us with his message, and effectively hit the right notes, all while doing a great job with gestures, vocal variety and eye connection. He also managed to weave several different story lines into a magnificent conclusion.


Evaluating Speakers Using the Vocal Variety Factor

You don’t always tune in to a speaker from start to finish. Sometimes your mind wanders, and you lose focus. As a presenter, you can help your audience pay better attention by varying your vocal patterns—volume, speed, cadence and intonation. The more you sound the same, the less your audience will want to tune back in. We watched a number of recent commencement addresses to help demonstrate what we mean by “vocal variety.”


How to Tell a Story—and WHY

One quality among our favorite commencement presenters is their ability to tell stories. Stories grab our attention, connect us to the speaker, illustrate their main point, and stay in our memories well after the speech is over. Anyone can tell a story. Here are a few tips that we picked up from the best commencement addresses we watched.


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