Friday, December 16, 2011

Famous Speech Friday: Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride

Not every speaker will ask her audience to "put your paws up," but then not every speaker is Lady Gaga. The singer known as much for her outlandish outfits and performance staging as for her dance-ready music spoke before tens of thousands of people attending Rome's Europride festival, earlier this year. And that speech is still reverberating, online and elsewhere.

PR Daily just named Lady Gaga one of its top 10 communicators of 2011 on the strength of this speech, noting that "Gaga can own a stage not only with her songs, but also with her goosebump-inducing cadence when delivering a speech." Her message was one of social justice, and in sharing her observations, she made herself the crowd's messenger with lines like these:
The stories of all my beautiful fans, the young soldiers, the homeless LGBT youth, anti-gay violence, the effect that the denial of gay marriage has on real families worldwide — these are the stories that must be told to the world. These are the stories that will change the world. These are the stories that speak out in the defense of love. We are here today because we are not less valuable. We are here to proclaim our strength, our steadfastness, and our intelligence.We will not be treated as anything less than human.
What can you--you, without your green wig--learn from this famous speech? Plenty:
  • Do what's least expected of you for impact:  Without giving up one jot of her originality, Gaga delivered an old-school speech, in terms of its cadence, rhetorical devices and even her more-subdued-than-usual outfit. She used a lectern, script and microphone in a stand, all unusual in pinning her to one spot on the stage. Her message was equally serious. In wrapping herself in the mantel of old-school speaking, her words could gain influence with those who might otherwise dismiss her and her fans.
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do: Drawing from the playbook of every rock star who's ever uttered "Good evening, Roma!", Gaga plays to the locals over and over again in her speech, from her greeting and references to her Italian-American name and heritage to descriptions of seeing the crowds in the square earlier in the day. And the crowd eats it up. She's a natural relationship-builder with audiences, and this speech is as good an example of that as any of her concerts. Don't forget those little, local touches when you speak.
  • Draw us a picture of the future in terms we can understand: She's calling for some high-minded goals in social justice, but Gaga does a great job translating the noble into the everyday, making personal the cause she's advancing--and that helps her listeners relate better to it. "For the 15-year-old who struggles...with their identity...Who and what do they have to look up to? Where is their wedding day? Where does the dream of their potential end? And can it have no limits?" she says, near the end of her speech, in a series of questions that outlines both the struggle and the hopeful future.
You'll want to watch the video and read the transcript of this famous speech. What do you think of it?

(Photo from zio Paolino's photostream on Flickr)

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