I’m currently watching yesterday’s episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His guest was Bill Clinton, who recently delivered an extraordinary speech at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton is one of the most highly regarded contemporary public speakers and delivers hundreds of speeches every year.
When Jon Steward asked Clinton if he could tell that he was “crushin’ it as you were doin’ it?”, Clinton said the following:
“I worked so hard on that. For weeks and weeks. And then the White House designated Bruce Reed [. . .] to help me and then Jean Spurling, the national economic advisor [ . . . ] came in. And we worked for the last day and a half after doing all this other work. I was just determined to get the facts right and to simplify the argument without being simplistic.”
Like I said in yesterday’s post, great speechmaking takes hard, hard work. It takes planning and preparation and deep knowledge of your topic and argument. Bill Clinton spends weeks preparing his major speeches. He seeks help and advice and feedback and the input of experts. Even though his speech delivery may appear effortless, it is not without effort. The fact that he makes it look so easy is testimony to the sheer amount of work he puts into his speeches, and not just to an inherent ability to talk to large crowds of people.