Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jerry Brown shows speakers how to recover, without making himself the joke




Politicians' inaugural speeches and swearings-in tend to fall into the "little noted nor long remembered" category of public speaking, but a momentary stumble in California Governor Jerry Brown's oath of office yesterday was covered all over the news--in part, I think, because he made a humorous speaking save without turning the joke on himself.

As you can see in the few seconds of video, above, Brown stammered on the "m" when he was swearing that he had "without any mental reservations" about taking the office. Laughter sprang up from those around him on the dais and in the audience--no doubt because one might well have reservations taking that office during tough economic times. Brown recovered immediately, assuring everyone, "Really, no mental reservation."

The sincere and tongue-in-cheek tone saved the day, made the news and offers you a good example of how to turn a speaking stumble into a joke without making it a joke about yourself.  We've talked here before about how self-deprecating humor can work against you as a speaker and undermine your credibility unnecessarily.  In this case, Brown's long experience in speaking and politics helped him recover quickly (this really was the work of a few seconds), but you can keep it in mind when you need a quick save that doesn't throw you overboard.
Clip to Evernote
Use the Evernote clip button, above, to save this post in an Evernote notebook. Go here to subscribe to Step Up Your Speaking, my free email newsletter that looks at a different speaking topic in depth each month...then become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook and join the conversation with thousands of other women (and men) about public speaking skills and confidence. Subscribers also get a 25 percent discount when they register for our next Good On Your Feet! workshop on dynamic speaking skills, March 2 and 3 in Washington, DC.

Speaking science: Do women cry more for a biological reason?

Crying while you speak is one of those double-edged swords for women speakers. Those who do it are seen as weak and overly emotional, compared to men.  But at least one researcher, William H. Fry II, thinks women do cry more, and do so thanks to biology. He says it might all boil down to a hormonal difference, described here in the New York Times:

....both men and women have more of certain chemicals in the tears they shed because of emotional reasons...Among these substances are the hormones prolactin (associated with milk production) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, all of which are released when the body is under stress....Dr. Frey speculates that because women’s tears show significantly higher levels of prolactin between the ages of 15 and 30, the difference could be associated with frequent tears, to excrete the excess. It has also been suggested that prolactin itself stimulates tears in both sexes.
Frey is the author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears.

Related posts: The all-in-one on tears while speaking


Clip to Evernote
Use the Evernote clip button, above, to save this post in an Evernote notebook. Go here to subscribe to Step Up Your Speaking, my free email newsletter that looks at a different speaking topic in depth each month...then become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook and join the conversation with thousands of other women (and men) about public speaking skills and confidence. Subscribers also get a 25 percent discount when they register for our next Good On Your Feet! workshop on dynamic speaking skills, March 2 and 3 in Washington, DC.