The President of the Philippines did it again.
Days from now, no one will remember the occasion and the place where it was uttered. And no one will even bother to ask why those people, mostly in Barong Tagalog, were there,
Duterte was complaining about the duties of the Presidency. He had so many papers to read, he claimed. He needed to work hard.
And he confessed that during the ASEAN Conference, he used marijuana to keep himself awake.
No one was laughing.
It might be because, given the Presidents macho image and his so-called authentic style of speaking, the audience thought he was speaking the truth. There was no punch line. There was no indication, based on his delivery, that he was joking.
Or it might be because Marijuana is still illegal in the Philippines. Poor people have been gunned down and many have been put to jail because they were suspected marijuana users.
The President “promoted”, albeit in a joke, the use of marijuana and his audience didn’t know how to react.
Two hours after, the President said that he was only joking and only fools would believe him. The President who promised “change is coming” asserted that he could no longer change himself as it has been his style to joke about anything to keep the speech from being boring.
Hours after that, his followers claimed that the use of marijuana isn’t bad for people – and that it should be made legal.
His followers, without a doubt, believed that the President is a marijuana user.
As leaders, what can we learn from this?
Don’t do Duterte’s marijuana joke.
When delivering a speech, use that opportunity to honor people.
Give more attention to those who took the time to listen to you. If the occasion is about an award, pay attention to those who are receiving awards and the values that those awards represent.
To motivate and inspire people, you can tell stories of people who are present or of someone they admire. You don’t have to be that person.
You are not the one who is receiving an award. Let other people talk about your achievements later.
If it is a wedding, talk about the newly wed. Again, it is not about you.
If it is a funeral, talk about dead Honor that person and refrain from talking about your favorite business topic.
Honor people and they’ll listen to you.
More importantly, a speech is an opportunity to sell the future.
Leaders paint the picture of the future the audience really care about. Before you deliver a speech, be clear about your call to action. This is one duty of a leader you can do so easily.
Find out what these people are hungry for.
Find out what you can offer that they can’t refused.
Find out what they can do, within their power, to make things happen.
Find out how you can lead them to the future.
Of course, delivering a speech isn’t that difficult when you honor people and offer them a future they love. This is why you have to…
Stick to the point until the very end.
You don’t have to deliver your speech in an hour or two. No one is forcing you, as a leader, to deliver a long speech. No one will fault you for your inability to make them laugh.
When you are done, stop.
Leave the joking to Vice Ganda or Joey de Leon. Don’t try too hard to be like them.
Leave whatever is unnecessary unsaid.
A joke, like the “Marijuana Joke” of Duterte is a mistake you can avoid.
If you don’t want to deliver a boring speech, then tell people what is interesting to them without having to change your topic.
Stick to the point.
A GM of a manufacturing company asked me to train his managers to “speak like you”.
He said he liked the way I delivered my ten-minute speech about Achievement Habits.
Truth be told, I don’t teach people to speak like me. I am a work in progress.
What I can do is to teach managers how to speak so they can inspire people and sell their ideas. They don’t need to become excellent English speakers too. I am not. Observe that I use simple English words. This is because those are the words I know.
In the coming days, I will be announcing a new public speaking workshop (a public event) that managers will surely love.
In the meantime, you can send your public speaking questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org