I flew into the into Austria and I was excited. I had never been there before. beautiful city has every kind of amenity that castles museums, the orchestra, the opera, fantastic city. Then I go to the United Nations center and beautiful building, but you kind of feel like you're in Austin Powers movie. It wasn't built in the 60s, but it has a 60s feel with round windows and odd shaped doors. A really cool, fun, interesting building.
My assignment was pretty exciting. I was working with someone who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. So here's someone who's going to be giving a speech. Same place Martin Luther King, Jr. Like valenza Nelson Mandela, some of the most famous, most important significant people in history. speaking out on Their causes how to make the world more peaceful, better. And at a time when the world listens, you have a tremendous megaphone, a tremendous spotlight, if you are given the Nobel Peace Prize, so we start the practice.
And here's what happened. My client pulls out his notebook. Dear Nobel committee, thank you so much for it nice. His head is down. He's reading the whole time. Oh, what do we do because it's not uplifting.
It's not inspirational. It's not exciting. It's not drawing people in to a new cause. He sounded like frankly, a low level bureaucrat just reading new regulations at the Department of Motor Vehicles. It just was not inspiring, at all. No emotion, a whole bunch of facts.
But what do you do with someone who's naturally cautious? Someone who naturally has legalistic training and wants to be precise? What do you do? I'll tell you what I did there. I let him practice get comfortable with that a few times, but he was still reading. And then we just kind of sat back and said, What do you really want people to know about how you experienced this how you felt your experiences in your journey towards this award, and we tried to put a little more emotion and feeling into it.
And then we rewrote the speech. But here's what I did. I made the font much, much larger. So instead of normal font 1012 point we made it much, much larger font. And we reduced it to sentence fragments. Now he still wanted to read his call.
Thinking is a speech like this is put into the history books. It's transcribed in newspapers all over the world, you do want to get it just right. But by making it really large font, and turning it into sentence fragments, and by practicing again and again and again, hour after hour, he was able to still read it, but look up at least half the time. And by talking about some personal elements of emotion experiences with his wife and part of his journey, it brought some humanity to it, it brought some warmth to it abroad, a twinkle to his eye, and a smile to his face. And by practicing again and again and again on video. He read the speech in a way where it didn't just sound like he was reading it.
It certainly didn't sound like he was reading it for the first time. So there may be times when you feel like you just have to read. That's okay but realize it's going to take you more time than usual to get prepared. My advice, make the font really large practice again and again and again, until you're at the point where you're looking up at your audience half the time. So why do I tell that story? I don't want people to think that I'm saying every speaker has to do it my way and everything always has to be just from a single sheet of notes or off the top of your head and giving perfect hundred percent eye contact with people all the time.
You don't have to I'd like you to but you don't have to do it that way. I want to give people a sense that there are other ways of doing it for certain speeches that seem more important formal, more official than others. There are ways of doing it, but you have to put more time into it. So that's the real message from that story.