Michael Lewis on Timothy Geithner as a Speaker – (He should have written his speeches, and had Denzel Washington perform them)

Books-GeithnerMichael Lewis reviews Stress Test by Timothy Geithner in the New York Times.  The review is wonderful,  and enlightening…

But, here’s the excerpt about speaking:

“I had always been a backstage guy,” Geithner writes by way of general explanation, but referring specifically to his first, spectacularly unsuccessful, public speech as Treasury secretary. “I had spent my career behind the scenes. Ever since high school, I had dreaded public speaking. . . . I swayed back and forth, like an unhappy passenger on an unsteady ship. I kept peering around the teleprompter to look directly at the audience, which apparently made me look shifty; one commentator said I looked like a shoplifter. My voice wavered. I tried to sound forceful, but I just sounded like someone trying to sound forceful.”

Geithner is clearly more at ease, and more himself, on the page than on the stage or the screen — which is, for an American public figure, both odd and charming. So much so that I finished his book half wishing he had just skipped all of the public performances required of him as Treasury secretary and instead written out what he had to say and handed it to an actor — say, Denzel Washington — to perform. 

Plenty of hints in here on how to speak:

Actually be forceful, don’t act like you are being forceful…
Don’t sway
If you use a teleprompter, use it well – don’t look shifty…
Don’t let your voice waver…

But, just for the record, though I am usually relatively at ease when I speak, if I could get Denzel Washington to read my speeches, I can assure you that I would yield the podium…


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