Nelson Mandela Truly “Speaks”

If you haven’t watched the movie, Invictus, you should.  While admittedly slow in places, it’s interesting to see how one compelling leader, Nelson Mandela, was able to reach out to a very diverse and divided audience and unite South Africa.  In this movie, in which he is played by Morgan Freeman, Mandela joins forces with the captain of the rugby team, Francois Pienaar, to create a common source of pride that South Africans could rally around. 

Mandela is an inspiring and creative speaker from whom we all can learn, whether he is speaking to one person or many.   His core messages to various audiences around the world are basically the same … to improve the future, to end discrimination and inequality, to respect freedom and independence, to expect more of ourselves,  to exceed our own expectations and to recognize our common humanity.  

Mandela manages to adapt these core messages to different audiences in order to connect with them in a language they understand, whether it is a group of sports fans, miners, journalists,  government officials, universities, civic groups, community leaders or corporations. 

Mandela truly speaks!    He employs all of the skills of an effective speaker.  He is humble, tells stories, smiles, emphasizes key points, maintains good eye contact, speaks with passion, gestures in all the right places, and makes a lasting impression.  His content resonates with and holds the attention of the audience.   He looks relaxed, yet speaks with conviction.  He is conversational and shows a sense of humor.  He speaks at a good pace and volume, and is clear and concise.  And, he manages to do all this and more without PowerPoint slides. 

We can all learn from Mandela’s speeches, including his inaugural speech in 1994. They not only teach us how to be better speakers, but also how to be better people.

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One Comment on “Nelson Mandela Truly “Speaks””

  1. Jeannine Says:

    I will put it at the top of my “must rent” list! Charismatic speakers are always more interesting than robotic ones.


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