Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

From a C+ to an A+ in Public Speaking: What can you learn from this leader’s experiences? [Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy]

September 20, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson

Have you heard about Return Driven Strategy (RDS)? 

Discussed in the book, “Driven,” this pyramid-shaped framework has 11 tenets and 3 foundations you can apply to your business strategy. When executed properly, these principles can help you achieve true wealth creation. 

Another thing I like about RDS is its applicability to the microlevel. Just apply it to your career and you have Career Driven Strategy (CDS). 

Today, let’s focus on CDS in the context of public speaking. 

Keep reading to learn some career-driven lessons from the experiences and speeches of one of the greatest speakers in history. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Return Driven Strategy 

It’s often said great speakers are made, not born… and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy (JFK) is no exception to that. 

In the book, “JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century,” Pulitzer prize-winning historian Fredrik Logevall traces Kennedy’s transformation from a shy, awkward speaker into an orator who captivated the world with his “magnetic leadership and inspirational rhetoric.” 

Logevall also talked about an audio recording of 20-year-old JFK in a public speaking class at Harvard University… 

Photo from Projects at Harvard

The year was 1937. During class, JFK chose a public speaking topic about a Supreme Court nominee. 

According to Logevall: 

“The speech starts off strong. He speaks clearly and with vigor. But after 25 seconds, Kennedy loses his momentum. He gets nervous or distracted. He trips over a word, utters an ‘uh’ as he tries to recover. He stammers and hesitates through the rest of the recording.” 

Because of that, JFK received a C+ in the course. 

What does this tell you? 

Not all great speakers and leaders are born with good public speaking skills. Some are like JFK, who was originally quite fearful of the idea of delivering a speech in front of an audience. 

However, with patience, determination, and practice, he was able to improve his skills and eventually address both small and large groups of people. 

It’s actually remarkable to think about 20-year-old JFK’s experience. Who would’ve thought the leader who’d go on to deliver one of the greatest speeches in history 2 decades later barely passed his first public speaking class? 

His transformation offers an important lesson for any leader or industry professional who also wants to inspire and move people through good communication. 

Walking in with POWER 

Aside from honing his verbal communication skills, JFK worked to improve his non-verbal communication skills such as: 

In other words, he also made sure to improve his overall PRESENCE when delivering a speech. He knew no matter how well his message is structured, it wouldn’t hold much impact without great delivery and projection. 

That’s why JFK ensured the moment he stepped into a room or onto a stage, he walked in with confidence

… and although the improvements took time to show, JFK consistently worked on his techniques to become a “self-composed, authentic communicator who employed the rhythms and languages of powerful rhetoric and presentation delivery.” 

Try listening to or reading the transcript of his inaugural address on January 20, 1961. You’ll see how he moved from being a shy presenter to a leader who knew the power of both written and spoken words to win votes, set goals, change minds, and move a nation forward. 

A Powerful Public Speaking Presence and Career Driven Strategy (CDS) 

There are 2 components that can help you communicate holistically (CDS’ Tenet 11) with your audience: 

  • A well-written message
  • Powerful stage presence

No speaker worth their salt would tell you that preparing an engaging presentation is unnecessary, as long as your idea and content are great. 

What they’d tell you is you need to command the attention of your listeners the moment you step in. That’s why you have to know how to carry yourself before, during, and after your speech. 

Besides, history’s greatest speakers have built a unique image for themselves. By “image,” we’re referring to their confidence, mood, posture, gestures, how they dress, and how they project themselves on and off the stage. 

—these are the things their audience remembered about them and the impact they made. 

So, if you also want to be a memorable speaker, you have to keep these examples of non-verbal communication in mind! 

Showcase your confidence and make a powerful presence. Doing these things will not only result in an impactful and captivating message but also enable you to effectively communicate with your audience. 

Oh, and another thing: Having a well-written message and a powerful stage presence doesn’t only lead to holistic communication. It also leads you to brand your offerings/skills (Tenet 6 of CDS) because by showcasing your public speaking prowess, you leave a positive and lasting impression on your audience. 

Who knows? Someday, these people would like to re-engage with you or invite you for another public speaking engagement where you could share your expertise. 

Apply these communication tips to your career! 

Remember: Whether you’re a business leader, marketer, engineer, accountant, professor, manager, independent contractor, or others, having good communication skills will help you achieve both your personal and professional goals. 

We hope you find today’s topic interesting and helpful! 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy”

In the book, “Driven,” authors Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo said that the goal of every long-term successful business strategy should incorporate the combined necessity of “making the world a better place” and “getting wealthy.” 

That is why they created Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy―frameworks that were built to help leaders and professionals plan and evaluate businesses so they can also help others achieve their organizational goals and career goals. 

The frameworks describe the plans and actions that drive returns for anyone in an organization such as independent contractors, marketers, brand managers, communicators, and other people in any field. These actions lead to the creation of wealth and value for customers, employees, shareholders, and the society. 

Every Tuesday, we’ll highlight case studies, business strategies, tips, and insights related to Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy. 

In planning, building, or managing brands and businesses, these strategies, case studies, and guidelines will help you choose what specific actions to take and when to take them. 

Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Return Driven Strategy!”


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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