Have you ever heard the phrase “He’s a Natural Born Speaker”?

When I was growing up, I often heard that comment and quite frankly, I still do. I don’t
ever recall hearing “She’s a Natural Born Speaker” but I suspect that’s merely a
reflection of the times, which we know have changed, and continue to change, and
that’s a good thing. But back to the point...
Is there really such a person: a “Natural Born Speaker”? Well let’s look for evidence
that being a “Natural Born Speaker” is really “natural” as a result of genetics for
example. Now, so far as I know up till now in 2014, the 13 year Human Genome
Project, completed in 2003, has yet to discover a “Natural Speaking” gene. Of course,
interpretation of the results continues today and we might be surprised to discover that
in fact there is a “Natural Speaking” gene but I not holding my breath for that result.
Well, if it’s not genetic, then what could account for a person being labeled a “Natural
Born Speaker?” If it’s not Nature, then I suppose it’s Nurture. While it doesn’t have
quite the same ring when I say it, maybe the phrase “Nurture Born Speaker” is what we
should be using, but that’s not the commonly used phrase. No, the phrase that we use
and accept is “A Natural Born Speaker” and when used, we think of qualities such as:
any really good talker, an inspiring Speaker, a gifted Salesperson who can sell almost
anything, a convincing Politician, a motivational Communicator, an entertaining Talk
Show Host.
So then, we use certain qualities to define a “Natural Born Speaker” but they really
don’t explain why or if the speaker is “Natural Born”.
“Orator” is an old label, and not one we use much anymore. If you research “Orator”
you’ll soon find yourself perusing personalities from ancient Greece to the early 1900’s
when the word seems to have passed out of fashion. If you look that far back, you’ll
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“A Natural Born Speaker?”
Tom j Dolan
Tokyo
see that Language too changes with time. Words come and go as society, technology,
and culture changes. And it’s not just the words we use that change, but the way we
use them and the style of delivery that changes too. So rather than defining
characteristics I’ll look for a label and choose a person who seems to epitomize a
“Natural Born Speaker.”
How about Abe Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address. A smashing success according to
reviews at the time and since. And how about Susan B. Anthony. She delivered a
stirring speech, numerous times in upstate New York around 1873, in support of
Women’s Rights. Yet as I look at both of these milestone, inspiring speeches, which I
suggest you take a look at, I wonder what each would look like and sound like if written
and delivered today. Would the Speaker be considered a “Natural Born Speaker” or
would those garlands be hung on the Speech rather than the Speaker? Having never
heard them, I really don’t know, but,
Bringing our focus up to the present day, and Politics aside, it seems to me that a
sterling example of an excellent Speaker is the current US President Barack Obama.
He can deliver a message powerfully and convincingly! But, a “Natural Born Speaker?”
I don’t think so, but if he’s not, then how does one explain his ability to inspire an
audience, influence opinions, and gain their support?
Passion for his subject? Yes. Speaking experience? Life experience? That too. Also his
Education, Compassion, and Goals. Then there’s clear Articulation and Physical
performance. And most importantly, a willingness to take a “Risk” by presenting a
message, expressing his ideas & ideals, and Himself, to possible Ridicule and Failure,
but also to Success.
Now you may be thinking, “If I really need all that to be an excellent Speaker, I’ll never
become one.” Well yes, personal assets will help as you grow, but for you to begin
Speaking? NO, you don’t need all that. You can begin building the skills of Speaking
today, and that’s my point here.
So, you’re not a “Natural Born Speaker” but that’s OK, because no one else is either.
I’m saying that “Natural Born Speakers” are not born. They’re made. Well now that’s a
relief isn’t it? Because if I’m correct, it means all of us, you included, have a chance of
becoming excellent Speakers of the “Natural Born” variety. You see,
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Speaking skills and techniques are learnable. Just like learning “How to” cook a meal,
drive a car, or ride a bicycle. Yes Speaking skills and the techniques on how you apply
them are learnable. You can learn to create a Conversation with an audience in a style
that fits you. Others have done it and so can you.
Don’t accept the idea that it’s impossible for you to become a Skillful, Confident
Speaker. Don’t use your fear of embarrassment as your excuse not to learn the Skills of
Speaking because the Skills are Learnable. You can learn to advocate for issues that
are important to you, influence and educate to help build a better global community.
Remember OJT*. You will learn by doing, so begin now.
A Teacher or Coach can train you and guide you, but they can not sell you
“Experience.” You must earn Experience through your own e!orts. If you Speak
passionately, Speak to educate, and Speak to communicate, you will build your
Speaking skills and your Speaking Confidence.
If you do that, you too will at some point be referred to as a “Natural Born Speaker.”
Now that will be a great achievement!
*OJT: On the Job Training.
Tom j Dolan, the Author, is a media professional and the producer
of “Performance of Speaking” an informative website devoted to
Training & Coaching both untrained & experienced Speakers who
want to contribute to the global conversations shaping the future of
our Communities, Regions, and Planet.
Visit tomjdolan.com and see what Performance of Speaking is all about.

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