Persuasion Guru Gives Insight on Speech, Passion

By Jacob Miller | RU School of Communication

Radford University’s Communication Week will feature a number of skilled guest speakers, but one in particular talks the talk.

Kevin Daley, a former vice president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and founder of the communication skills business Communispond, captivated the audience at an April 3 lunch in the Muse banquet hall.

The event was part of the university’s Global Capitalism Distinguished Speaker series, which is sponsored by BB&T and organized by the College of Business and Economics.

Faculty administrators, guests, and business and communication students attended to gain insight from the persuasion coach. Daley’s talk, “Persuasion: the Force that Makes Capitalism Hum,” centered on how to communicate effectively to large groups.

An animated Daley used a combination of his own teachings and experience, as well as demonstrations that featured audience members, to show how to be a skilled speaker.

He began by stating it is completely normal for all people to be apprehensive about speaking in front of large audiences and the importance of being able to harness and make positive use of that nervous energy.

Daley also focused on the basics, such as making eye contact and using proper body language and posture. “We are not going to score as communicators unless we recognize communication is a physical process. Unless we release the energy, they won’t get it. We should be exhausted when it’s over,” Daley said.

One of the most informative and enjoyable parts of the presentation was his use of audience members in speech exercises. He started with simple tasks: having them introduce themselves or tell the audience an interesting story while utilizing the basic speech skills.

The true gem came with the last demonstration. Daley instructed participants to tell an awkward or embarrassing story.  He encouraged them to dramatize the account with high volume, excessive hand gestures and movement. The display drew laughs and comments from the faculty and students, but it also helped Daley drive home one of the pivotal points of his presentation: It got the audience engaged and it made the speech interesting.  Daley preached that above all else, communication should never be boring.

Daley closed by talking about the importance of effective speech in terms of employment and promotion.  He said that in most companies, the possibility of moving up the ranks does not come down to the work that is done day in and day out.  He said it is frequently determined by one or two significant situations a year where an employee has to speak with or in front of management, and it’s the ability to do this successfully that determines progress.

Daley stated it is whether or not an employee can convey enthusiasm, passion and commitment skillfully that often makes the difference.

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