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How to Give a Speech like Ronald Reagan

Find out what you can learn from the late Ronald Reagan's speaking style from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


What can people learn about the speaking style of Ronald Reagan? Now, he is called the great communicator, but people often misjudge what his true speaking skill was. They think, oh he was just a natural communicator, great Hollywood star. That's not really what it was.

He brought an actor's discipline to the speaking process. For example, when he had a major speech, like the State of the Union address, he would meet with his advisors for months in editorial meetings, coming up with ideas, stories, changes, and revisions on the speech. Then he had the discipline of telling them the speech has to be finished, finished, finished a week before he gave it.

He would then spend three hours a night reading the speech out loud in the residency above the Oval Office in the White House. Even that wasn't enough. He would then spend an entire day of videotaped rehearsal practicing for the speech. Not to memorize it, because he was using a teleprompter. He was practicing on video to make sure everything was just right, that he put the right emphasis on the right word, and that he was comfortable with it. That way when he was actually giving the speech he didn't seem like he was reading a teleprompter. He felt like he was just speaking to you. It seemed like he was just speaking to you. That feeling came out. That's why he was so effective.

The other thing is he had a rule with his speech writers. He'd say, I don't ever want to talk for more than two minutes without talking about a real person with a real problem. Ronald Reagan understood when you're President you're using the bully pulpit. It's not about simply conveying the most facts, conveying the most numbers. You've got to give people a sense of importance. They've got to visualize it and understand it at a human level. That's why he was the great communicator.

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