Public Speaking Basics for the Candidate CW 20- Transcript

public speaking basics political candidatePaul Miller:  Welcome to another edition of Commonwealthy. You are probably not recognizing this voice because I am not your normal host, John Tsarpalas. This is Paul Miller coming to you on a very different, yet important podcast.

The reason you are hearing me today as the host is because I am going to be interviewing your normal host. Welcome to your show, John.  

John Tsarpalas: Thank you. This is a big first for me. I’ve never been sort of interviewed by own interview.

Paul Miller:  Yes, you’ve always been obviously the host of this show as well as you’ve done lots of other interviews that you’ve conducted. Now we’ve got the roles reversed. The reason we’ve done this is we are going to talk about an important topic today.

There is no one that I can think of after my two decades of political consulting that I would rather talk to about those running for office, local office especially, learning to become good public speakers. This is something that cannot be over-estimated.

It is so important that you develop good public speaking skills. Besides the fact that you are going to be meeting voters, prospects, you are not just doing it in one-on-one session, you are going to have events at homes or public gatherings where there might be a dozen to a couple hundred people that you are going to need to talk to.

There are going to be endorsement sessions of local political groups. Those are not usually one-on-one; those usually take place in front of larger groups who make that decision. So you need to have those good public speaking skills.

John, give us an idea of the foundation of what a good public speaker political candidate, as well as then an elected official, is?

John Tsarpalas: A good speaker starts with someone who looks confident, looks like a leader. It’s about what you are projecting. Public speaking is only seventeen percent of the words and eighty-three percent how you say it. I don’t know who the heck figured out that percentage, but I have been seeing it for years in different places and decided to quote it as well.

It really is the image. Number one, your image. You have to look like a leader, not only in how you dress and your appearance, but also in how you act. So it starts off from the very moment you hit that stage or get in up in front of that audience. You need to look the part.

Quite frankly, I coach people. It is somewhat acting at first. You kind of fake it until you make it. It’s a matter of sort of believing it and eventually believing that you are confident and you know what you are up to.

Usually you talk about a topic you know. So then you are sort of the expert on it anyway.

Paul Miller:  Over the years I can tell you, and John and I both experience it, we’ve had candidates who actually thought they were good public speakers. They knew an issue inside and out. When it really came to putting the pedal to the metal, they didn’t have it.

They were confident, but they needed some actual training. They needed to look themselves in the mirror. They need to practice more and to realize where their faults laid and how they needed to improve.

It’s great to have that confidence; there is no doubt about it. It’s good to portray, but it doesn’t always mean you have good public speaking skills.

John Tsarpalas: No, that’s true. Unfortunately, there are people (we’ve worked with them) who thought they were great speakers. There’s a whole lot more you can do here. I don’t want to knock anybody in the beginning. I just want to say, “You have this strength and that strength. You need to work on this and work on this.”

And public speaking you can always be improving and getting better and working at. It’s a never-ending perfection. And there’s speakers in politics that sometimes have read too much and they are too knowledgeable.

Paul Miller:  Too dry.

John Tsarpalas: Not only dry, but too wordy. A good speech uses simple words, single syllable words and a lot of them. You don’t want to use too many words that are multi-syllabic. Is that the way you say syllable.

Paul Miller:  I think you are talking about words that are too academic.

John Tsarpalas: Yes, you don’t want a lot of big words. You want to keep it simple. You are trying to speech at about a seventh or eighth grade level. You want people to understand you. You want to make it simple. You want to make your concepts simple.

But you are also doing a whole lot more in a speech. You are projecting feelings and emotions, painting pictures, and telling stories. The story of why this issue is important. The left is so good at having a story, having a victim. They always have a victim that we’ve got to help this poor person.

We don’t talk about the people that will be helped and have stories of people who will be helped by our policies. What about the business that is taxed further? How many jobs will get cut there?

I shouldn’t say never. It’s harder for us to have stories. But we can have stories. This is something a good public speaker always has; he always tells a story.

Paul Miller:  Actually I am going to disagree with you.

John Tsarpalas: Okay, good.

Paul Miller:  I am going to agree with everything you are saying, with the exception that I think we do have stories.

John Tsarpalas: We do.

Paul Miller:  I don’t think it is harder for us. I actually think that if we really look at it, because we know that our policies not only just work better, but they are more moral.

John Tsarpalas: Correct.

Paul Miller:  The left loves to paint an image of “Oh, we are helping the poor. We are helping the poor.” When we know for a fact if you look at the inner cities, the poor are hurting, hurting, and hurting and it’s the left that rules the inner cities.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Paul Miller:  So I think that we have plenty of stories. We need to just think about them. Think out of the box of how to tell them.

John Tsarpalas: You are right; there are stories there. We are more wired towards facts.

Paul Miller:  Yes, we are. And that hurts us.

John Tsarpalas: And that hurts us. We look to a balanced budget and we talk about the numbers in the budget. That doesn’t sell, because really it is emotions and feelings that sell. Stories help sell that and paint pictures in people’s minds that are memorable.

So let’s go back to the basics. A speech has an opening. It has a middle where there is a story or two or maybe three if it is long speech. But you don’t want to do more than that. And then there is a closing. A closing in a political sense always has a call to action.

Just about any speech has a call to action. There is something you want. You want to motivate the people you are talking to do something, at least hear your point of view.

An opening should be something that is bold and strong and captures their attention immediately. Something you shouldn’t do as an opening is get up and give your resume. Someone else should do that.

At any event you are speaking at, there is probably going to be somebody that is announcing and is the host for the evening. Have a card or a piece of paper with what you want as an introduction on it: your name, the office you are running for, and a little bit about why you are qualified. Let them the do the resume stuff, which is boring.

They introduce you and you come out strong. I like to open with questions. I like to use rhetorical questions throughout a speech because it always engages the audience. People’s minds instantly go to answering it in their head.

Paul Miller:  Give us an example.

John Tsarpalas: Hey, everybody. I am here with a new stump speech. Have you thought about what you are going to open a stump speech with? It’s exactly that simple- anything like that. Just a simple question.

You don’t need them to answer it or you can have them answer it. It depends where you are at in the speech, too. In the middle, it is great to get the audience to throw some questions at you to kind of get them livened up again.

But anyway, back to that opening. So you want a strong opening. If you are funny and you’ve got a story that is funny that relates, great. If you are not funny, don’t go there. You can turn an audience off if you are corny or you are not funny.

You definitely want to be careful about who you are poking fun at with your humor, especially in political speeches. You’ve got to be careful in this politically correct world, it’s harder to be funny without some group feeling bad about it.

Paul Miller:  And you can’t always assume you are in front of a friendly audience. Right now, guess what everyone? We all have cameras. These cameras are on our phones and these phones also take video. Quite often, even if you are in front of a friendly crowd, they might be posting that video somewhere because they think that everyone thinks as they do and that there is nothing wrong with this.

Ergo, it does get out to more of the public. That individual does not have the same shall we say perspective as the majority opinion or those that you are trying to get to come to your side and select you as their candidate. The next thing you know, your candidacy is completely doomed.

John Tsarpalas: Yes. There are so many ways they can record you. There’s apps besides videos. Periscope is out there now. They can show a little short video of you right at that moment.

Paul Miller:  On Twitter, yeah.

John Tsarpalas: So, yes, it is a whole new world and you have to be very careful about what you are saying. I think a speech is something that you practice and you rehearse, but you don’t necessarily write every word.

You don’t completely script it because you get too bogged down in trying to remember the script. But you do give yourself some notes and some bullet points. You either take them with your or you don’t. It depends if you can remember your notes.

And then as you are speaking, you try to flow and look natural and comfortable. The truth is you rehearsed it twenty times in a mirror at home. I always like to practice in front of a mirror because you can see what your face is doing.

What your face is doing is also projecting an image for the speech. You want to be sure you are smiling at the right parts and looking sad at the right parts. You want to make sure that is happening.

You want to be looking at what your body language is saying while you are giving this speech. Are you standing there with your feet firmly planted? One thing that betrays confidence is someone who gets up there and is rocking around or shuffling their feet.

You want to get up there and plant your feet until there is a moment you want to move. But you want to move because you are going to emphasize something or you are changing topics.  It’s a way to signal the audience that here’s a shift.

There is nothing worse than a speaker who kind of gets up there and strolls from one side of the stage and then strolls back again. Literally he is putting him to sleep with the swaying motion back and forth across the stage.

Plant your feet. Get out there. Pause for a minute before you open your mouth. Plant your feet and look at the audience. And then start. Having a little pause gives a little emphasis and gravitas to what you are about to say. If you kind of start speaking on the way out, you lose that. It really does help to pause right there at that opening.

Speaking of pauses, pauses do great things for emphasis throughout a speech. You are about to get to an important point. Pause before it, make the point, and pause after it. By doing that, as I just did here, people will realize it is important.

Paul Miller:  To make the audience realize exactly what you are talking about, think about talk radio. I am sure most of the people here listening are fans of some type of talk radio show. Notice whether it is a Russ Limbaugh or Shawn Hannity or Mark Levin, that individual at some point while they are talking is pausing.

They never just completely ramble. There are always these pauses, which give them a moment to emphasize a point as well as to re-gather their thoughts. It’s the same thing with public speaking. Those pauses can emphasize so much and give you a second there to make sure you are at the right pace and you know what you want to continue saying.

John Tsarpalas: Right. So we were actually hitting a couple of topics here. We were talking about the opening, but we also drifted into practicing and rehearsing in front of a mirror. Rehearse in front of other people if you can pull some family together or friends.

People who listen to this podcast are very familiar with Kristina Keats, “Tina.” You and I go back a long way with Tina’s House of Pain, which was literally a place we rehearsed candidates. We brought together people in her living room. They were the audience and they provided feedback.

That worked really well for candidates because they got a lot of feedback right away. We’d have them come in and then come back a week later after they’d had the rehearsal there with all the feedback.

Now I always was troubled by the term “Tina’s House of Pain,” but a congressman coined that phrase. His byline to that was “Check your ego at the door” because he went out the there sort of shattered about how he was as a public speaker. But he became a much better public speaker after we worked with him.

Tina’s House of Pain has sort of drifted into John’s be a little more gentle world. We don’t quite go as harsh as we used to.

Paul Miller:  But what you do (and this goes to back to whether it was under Tina or yourself) is give an honest response. Too many people involved in politics who run for office surround themselves with people who never criticize them. So they can be giving a speech in front of them, and they keep hearing, “You are wonderful. You are wonderful. You sound great. Everyone loves you.”

You want to practice and get information and advice from people (and this goes with any type of politicking that you do, campaigning, and obviously as we are talking here today about public speaking) who are being honest. If the people closest to you are lying because they are trying to protect their job or their just yes people, it does you no good and it sure as heck isn’t going to do your candidacy any good.

So when you are practicing, be with people who are willing to say, “You stink. You need to do this.” Maybe not so harsh.

John Tsarpalas: Well, let me tell you how I’ve changed. Tina’s was pretty harsh.

Paul Miller:  Yes.

John Tsarpalas: I always start with what I liked. Give them a positive. “You did a great standing there” or “This line was good.” Find something you liked. And then talk about what needs to be improved or changed. You don’t use phrases like, “That stunk. This is no good.” We don’t go that harsh.

Just try to say it in softer terms. They get the idea. It works fine. You are trying to keep the person in the race. You don’t want them running for the door and never coming back.

So once you’ve been practicing in front of people and getting some feedback (positive along with things to improve), you work on it. You change it. You try to do it again a week later or two weeks later. You give it a little time and you rehearse every day.

It does take practice. Public speaking gets more and more relaxed the more you do. You are going to be nervous no matter what event is coming up that you are supposed to speak at. But don’t think of it as fear; think of it as energy.

I want to get up and be nervous before a speech because I am excited and I’ve got a lot of energy that I can channel into my speech. It works so much better when I have that energy. So use the nervous energy; channel it. It’s a good thing. It’s adrenaline. You want it.

That’s one of the reasons I love public speaking now. I am sort of addicted to the adrenaline rush of it. It’s exciting. It is very fun.

Paul Miller:  That happens to a lot of candidates when they do run. Once they get that confidence and they are doing it more and more, it actually becomes one of the more enjoyable aspects of campaigning.

They find that they get a rush from the crowd. They like the applause they get. They love the Q & A sessions. And all of this stuff actually overall makes you a better candidate, not just from a speaking perspective, but you really get to understand your own positions and perspectives.

John Tsarpalas: So you are practicing. You are practicing a lot. You are writing out parts that are really important, perhaps your opening and your close or something you want to memorize. But not too much.

The rest of it is bullet points because if you are trying to remember more than that, you are going to get bogged down. It needs to flow and it needs to be natural.

It is not going to come out exactly the same every time  you give it. But most stump speeches you are going to give over and over again. It is going to be once a week or once a month, but the same speech is going to happen.

You are going to tailor it for the audience because you are going to be in a little different place each time. If it is all written, you have to rewrite it. You are not going there. You are just going to kind of wing it and modify it as you go.

So you got the opening. You hooked them. You are going for that story. Now, between the opening and the story perhaps you want to make a shift in your position on stage.

Something I do if possible is see the venue in advance. Take a look at the stage. Take a look at the setting. If you don’t have time to get there beforehand, try to get there a few minutes earlier before you are going on stage.

Think about what it looks like and how you are going to work that space. Is it a raised stage? Are there steps to it? Do you have to be careful going up and down those? Are you going to stay on the stage the whole time? Is there no stage and you are at the same level with people, like at a barbeque or some kind of an outdoor event?

So you want to determine before you get up where you are going to be standing, where you are going to move to at different points for emphasis, and where you are going to finish at, because that is important, too. The opening and the finish are the most important, but you should figure out also if you are going to move certain places for emphasis.

I usually try to get there beforehand to look at it and figure out what the miking is like (or no mikes). Be prepared for that. Am I going to have to hold this mike? Is there a mike stand? If there is a mike stand and it is in one place, then I am stuck in one spot. Or is there some arrangement that can be made in advance for a lavalier cordless mike, a wireless mike? Can you move around?

All of those things you need to think about in advance. If this is a small race and you are running for school board, that is not going to happen. But think about the setting and what is going to happen with the venue.

So I usually start center of the stage, back from the edge of the stage. You don’t want to be too far back, but back a little bit. I like to end center of the stage, but right at the front of the stage.

If you are in a group of people on the same level with them, I again like to start center of the group and back a bit. As I am speaking about an issue and doing a transition, I want to move forward and closer to the group to one side, and closer to the group on the other side at a different point. I end up back in the middle again.

So you need to think about that. That works well in terms of cueing the audience. People are used to people starting here and kind of moving there. There is a theme to it.

Now, in more complicated speeches, if you are going to tell a story and it has a timeline in it, you might want to set different points on the stage for different points in time. When you are talking about the 1980’s, you are at far right of the stage. When you are talking about the 1990’s, you are towards the middle. In the 2000’s, you are on the far left. And then you want to jump back to the nineties, you have to go back to that point in the stage.

There’s a lot of ways you’ve got to work that space and can work that space and be a better speaker.

Paul Miller:  There’s also an organization component. See if you have a time limit.

John Tsarpalas: Correct.

Paul Miller:  A lot of speakers, especially if there is a debate or a forum setting and even if it is just a candidate’s general remarks, might have a time limit. In fact, most likely you will. You need to make sure you are aware of it. You need to practice ahead of time so you know you get your key points out.

John Tsarpalas: Right. You should have different versions rehearsed. You should have stories you are going to plug in to make it longer and stories you are going to drop to make it shorter.

Things that you want to hit are your number one topic and your number one story. You’ve got a second story and a second topic. You don’t want to get more than three ever, even if you’ve got an hour.

And then more detail for the story and less detail for the story. But ways that you can lengthen and shorten things up.

Paul Miller:  Before we push further into the speeches, I want to go back for a second about notecards. Let the audience know what your thoughts are about the value of using notecards, 3×5 index cards, while you are giving a speech.

John Tsarpalas: If it is a very short speech and you don’t have a lot of facts, try not to have a notecard. I personally use a notecard when I have some facts that I’ve got to get right. $362,575, those numbers and things like that, I’ll have a notecard.

There is nothing wrong with carrying a notecard. There’s nothing wrong with having it in your hand. It does limit your gestures a little bit, but so what? People are used to. If you’ve got a podium or a lectern, you can bring your sheet out and put your sheet there.

But what happens with people is if they’ve written it out, they stand there and they read it. There is nothing more boring than a speech that is read to people. You don’t want to do that. You want to just have bullet points or notes. If you need the bullet points, fine; you have a notecard.

Something that I have done for fancier speeches, so to speak, (actually I recommend it for weddings) is you go to a place like Paper Source and you get the larger index card. Then you find a stiff almost cardboard paper that’s colored in a color that matches the event. So if a wedding has a color, you can buy that cardboard and double stick tape it to the back of your notecards so that you are holding up something that is the same color as the bridesmaids’ dresses.

So if you want to look a little classier and you are at an event for a political speech and it is a nice event, perhaps you want black paper or gray or something on the back of that notecard so it doesn’t look so much like a notecard. You can do a nicer job that way.

Paul Miller:  That’s excellent advice. I’ve never thought of that part.

John Tsarpalas: My wife.

Paul Miller:  Ah, yes!

John Tsarpalas: The first time I was coaching someone on a wedding, she said, “I’ve got this idea. Let’s do this.” And she was absolutely right. It was lovely. The guy loved it. The bride loved it because it matched her whole color theme for the wedding. So it was fun.

Paul Miller:  A woman’s touch.

John Tsarpalas: It was. It’s very good. So you’ve got notes, don’t have notes. Less notes are better. If you are going to forget something, so what? Who is going to know you forgot it except you? You lost the opportunity to tell that audience about it.

So you are in your speech. You are in the middle. You are telling your stories. Let’s talk about stories. Stories should be told like a story- with emphasis, taking your voice down and pausing more, and then getting exciting and ratcheting it up. Have some variety in your voice. Make it sound interesting.

We have a friend, a candidate, who loves to suddenly just clap and raise his voice and get really loud. It scares the living out of everybody. Everybody jumps. But he gets the audience awake again. They love it because he is such an entertainer.

I see us grinning over there. I just think it is funny. We worked with this guy for a lot of years. But he was great. He’s great. He pauses. It gets really quiet. And then he just claps and he says something really loud and shouts. And everybody jumps.

Think about how you work that in. It keeps the audience on their toes and gets them excited.

Paul Miller:  I want to stress the word that you used: entertainer. Guess what, gang? That’s what you are doing. If you can become an entertainer and an informative entertainer, then that means you’ve captured their attention. That means you’ve created a likeability factor. So don’t look at the word entertainer as a negative.

If you come off as an academic, you may come off as knowledgeable, but you may not necessarily come off as likeable. People want to learn something and they want to learn about you, but they want to like you. Sell yourself. Be that entertainer.

John Tsarpalas: Yes, absolutely. Gestures. They come very naturally to you and me. We are sitting here waving our hands in the air like crazy. That’s just who we are. But there are other people that it doesn’t come so naturally.

It’s something you need to think about when you are practicing. Where can you add a gestures and what kind of gesture? If you are talking about numbers, hold up a finger- one, two, three. I mean, those are simple gestures. If you are excited, start moving your hands around more. That makes sense. If it is calmer, then your hands are down at your side.

When you come out to start, you should start with your hands at your side. By the way, when you are waiting on the side of the stage to be introduced, again hands at the side. Hands sort of held together in front of you works as well. When you get out there, your hands should be moving. You should be making gestures.

Facial. We talked about that a hair earlier, but your face needs to reflect what you are saying. I tend to make faces. It sort of comes with my Greek-ness. The Greeks make certain facial things that I don’t see in the United States, which I’ve always found interesting. But it really conveys a lot.

So think about what your eyes are doing and what your mouth is doing. Think about your grin and your sadness. You are projecting that.

Something else you can do before you give the speech and as you are rehearsing it is think literally about the emotion that you want to project in that part of the speech. Think about how do you get your heart or wherever your emotion projects from to be projecting that during the speech.

I literally do what athletes do, and that is try to picture it in my mind. I picture myself giving that speech and feeling the sadness at that point. Now when I am going to sleep, I kind of rehearse speeches in my head. I think about the emotion. I try to picture that emotion coming out of me.

Just before I give a speech, I usually sneak off in the washroom and try to get myself what I call centered. I make myself think about the speech and calm down.

I also literally say to myself, “Open your heart up. Let what you are feeling be projected. Let it come from your heart and from inside.” I literally touch my heart and then I make my hands go out. Rehearse that, out of sight. That is what is going to happen during speech.

The other thing I think about during a speech, and depending on the speech, is I literally put my arms up in the air and out. I picture myself hugging the audience and embracing them. I want to reach out and I want touch all of these people, embrace them, and bring them in to my speech.

So that kind of mental and emotional exercise takes it to a whole other level when you give a speech. I think that’s really important. A lot of candidates lack that. They are just sort of getting up and going through the motions. It takes practice, but you can do it. It’s something I try to coach people on.

Paul Miller:  Another key point of any speech, John- and I want you to go into this because it is very important- is descriptive words, language.

John Tsarpalas: Right. Language is important, although as I said, seventeen percent is the words. But you want to create images. People aren’t going to remember facts. They are going to remember the story and they are going to remember images.

Images are done with adjectives, with descriptive words. You want to paint a picture. You want people to see something. So if you are talking about the sky, it’s not just blue, but it’s got clouds. You’ve got to talk about temperature and what it smelled like.

If you are talking to about someone who you are trying to help, you want to describe what their circumstances are like. What do they look like?

They are living in this terrible situation. The house is so in need of paint. I noticed a few cracked windows. The sidewalk is just cracked. The grass is unkempt. And the reason is they are on the Illinois side of the Iowa line. When you go across the Mississippi River into Iowa, the houses all look beautiful. They look freshly painted. Everything was well manicured. But on the Illinois side, things are dying. There is pain. You can sort of feel the angst in air.

That’s the kind of things you want to say. You want to paint some kind of a picture so they start to feel it and see it. You want to use descriptive words throughout your stories and throughout your speech.

I was talking earlier about you rehearsing to sort of embrace the audience with yourself. But something you absolutely have to do to connect with the audience is eye contact. Eye contact is essential. You can’t be looking down at your feet. You can’t be looking over the tops of their heads. And you can’t be looking around at the sides.

You want to look at the audience. But it took me a while to get to the next level. The next level is you want to look at an individual for a sentence or two and then pick another individual for a sentence or two and speak to them for a little bit. Then pick a different individual in a different section and speak to them.

Literally you are looking into their eyes. You want to make sure that they are connecting with you and you are connecting with them. If you are not connecting with them, something is wrong.

So you jump to somebody else and see if you connecting with them. You are testing. All day long you are polling that audience through the look in their face. If you are getting a nod or it looks like they are getting it, you are on track.

If you are not, then your speech needs changing or improving and you need to make something happen. You need to wake them up. You need to suddenly get louder. You need to change position. You need to do one of those things we talked about.

Paul Miller:  You need to make the clap.

John Tsarpalas: You need to make the clap, which works so well for him. At about twenty minutes in, he would do his clap. Everybody would jump. It’s important. It’s important.

But the eye contact will give you that feedback and the eye contact will keep you connected with them. And just because you are looking at one person doesn’t mean the whole audience is being lost because you are going to get to them. But you’ve got to mix it up and you’ve got to look.

Beginners, and I am guilty of this too, kind of look in an area and then look in another area, but don’t look at individuals. Start looking at individuals.

Something else you can do with your speech is you can be looking at an individual that looks like the person you are trying to talk about in your speech. If I am talking about a thirty-five year old woman, mother of two, I am look at a thirty-five year old woman at that moment. I don’t know if she is a mother, but I am sort of setting an example for the audience to look at her, that she’s that person.

If I am talking about a senior citizen, I am kind of looking at a senior citizen. It isn’t necessarily definitely them. You can even be kind of pointing towards them- pointing with a finger or pointing with your whole hand. “Let’s talk about seniors. We got so many issues happening in our community on the county level with helping seniors.”

And you are looking at some seniors. Although they might not be the ones you are going to help exactly, the audience sees you looking at a senior. And in their mind now, they’ve got a senior in their head.

There are lots of things that you can do. This all comes with practice and just thinking about it. You are not going to do all of this at first. You are going to get the opening, the story, and the close. You are going to practice and every time you do, you are going to try to add another element.

Paul Miller:  Can anyone become a good public speaker?

John Tsarpalas: Yes, you can become better. Everyone can become better. Toastmasters International is a great place to go to practice public speaking. They are very loving. They have a great, great manual to get you started. It is ten speeches. Each one of them takes you through a different step in the speech process, so you are adding these different elements.

But I have seen people that are just dull. I am sorry to say it, but there are people that don’t have a lot of personality. They are just not really interesting. They can get better, but they’ve got a long way to go.

Paul Miller:  But it’s important they get better because let’s face it, we see plenty of people who are in public life who are not exactly exciting.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Paul Miller:  Well, they had to get there. Sure, a lot of it might have been set up by a particular political party at the time. But they still had to connect some how. So you may really stink. You may be really boring. But you can get to that next level. Every level of improvement is going to get you a greater shot at winning at that office.

John Tsarpalas: Right. And if you are not a person with a lot of personality, you can work on this. Work on smiling. Work on the eye contact. Work on your content. What you are saying can be really important.

Paul Miller:  You can also joke about it.

John Tsarpalas: And you can. That will help.

Paul Miller:  Yes, you can joke about it. You can come out and say, “Hey, I know that I am not the most exciting speaker. You guys might find more enjoyment by rearranging your sock drawer.” You can say those words and get a laugh. Once you get that giggle, you’ve already reached the next level.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, you have.

Paul Miller:  You’ve actually garnered their attention. Now that you’ve got their attention, what are you going to do with it? John, where do they go?

John Tsarpalas: Well, they go to the closing. You still got them to close the speech. As I said earlier, it’s a call to action. In a closing, your voice needs to get louder. It needs to get higher. It needs to get excited. You need to look excited. Your hands need to be moving more. There needs to be energy for that close.

Paul Miller:  And confidence.

John Tsarpalas: And confidence is right. It shouldn’t be too long, but it should be a call to do something.

If you are a candidate, “Please, we are passing around a petition. Sign it. Please, we are passing around an email sign up sheet. Please put your email down. We are not going to use this for any other purpose than to keep in touch with you about our campaign. If you’ve like to get involved, we are having a pizza party next week at Joe’s Pizzeria at 1st and Main. There’s pamphlets out there. Please pick one up.”

Say something. Ask for something. Ask for them to do something on the next step. And of course, if you are running for office, you are asking for the vote. So you are closing with “I am John Tsarpalas and I am running for county commissioner of stump speeches. I need your support. I need your vote. Please vote for me on November 4th. And by the way, tell your friends and neighbors about how great a speaker I am and how I am going to make all the speeches better.”

Paul Miller:  Love it. And you are so dead on. You are so right. People forget to actually ask for the vote. I don’t know how many campaigns I have been involved with where some potential constituent has said, “I am not going to vote for your guy.” I am like, “Why? Do you not agree with this or that?” “No. He never actually asked me for my vote.”

As corny as that may sound and some may even say ignorant, there are people out there that have an old fashioned mentality. They just want to be asked. They want to be asked for their vote. That’s an easy to do for a candidate and it is something every candidate should do.

John Tsarpalas: Right.

Paul Miller:  John, let’s face it, we gave a lot of great information today, but you are not going to become a great speaker (sorry to say) by just listening to this one great podcast, even though I think there is a lot of information here. You should listen to it a few times. Pass it along to other people you know are interested in running for office or even helping people who are going to be running for office.

Where do they go to learn more about public speaking?

John Tsarpalas: What most people don’t know if I have another website besides the website where this podcast is hosted and the transcript for this podcast will be. So if you want to read it and pass it on to others, it’s there.

They can go to, which is my public speaking coaching site. I do coach people in public speaking. Also, on YouTube, if you put in John Tsarpalas, I have lots of videos there that teach people on the different steps in the public speaking basics process. So either or John Tsarpalas on YouTube.

Paul Miller:  One of the great things about having an uncommon last name is if you put it in Google, chances are it is just going to come up. You got some great videos and you’ve got some other great information on those sites.

John Tsarpalas: The problem is spelling Tsarpalas. I wonder if I should do that right now.

Paul Miller:  Tsarpalas.

John Tsarpalas: Well done.

Paul Miller:  Okay. It is funny when I am not writing it out because I am trying to envision the words. Plus I’ve also known you twenty years.

John Tsarpalas: Yeah, it’s about it.

Paul Miller:  I better know how to spell it.

John Tsarpalas: I’ve got Miller down real well.

Paul Miller:  Excellent. Sixth most common name.

John Tsarpalas: People can email me with their questions at or

Paul Miller:  Excellent. So here’s the issue as we end the podcast: technically it is still officially your show, but I am the official host. Who signs off?

John Tsarpalas: Well, why don’t I thank you for stepping in to be the host today.

Paul Miller:  My pleasure.

John Tsarpalas: Paul Miller of the Paulie Group. He can be reached at

Paul Miller:  Yes. You can also if you want to send me an email with any of your political questions or needs.

John Tsarpalas: And let’s not forget Commonwealthy podcast episode #16 with Paul Miller on how to deal with the press and media.

Paul Miller:  It’s been a great time, buddy.

John Tsarpalas: It’s been fun. Thanks.

Paul Miller:  We’ll catch you next time.

John Tsarpalas: Please pass this on to friends and others who might be interested in campaigns and politics. Let them know that we exist. Subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher. Feel free to leave us a review on our website as well as in iTunes and some of these other sites. A review on iTunes really would help us out.

I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. We always have show notes and transcripts on the website at

Public speaking gets more and more relaxed the more you do it. You are going to be nervous no matter what event is coming up and you are supposed to speak. But don’t think of it as fear; think of it as energy. I want to get up and be nervous before a speech because I am excited and I’ve got a lot of energy that I can channel into my speech. It works so much better when I have that energy.

So use the nervous energy. Channel it. It’s a good thing. It’s adrenaline. You want it. That’s one of the reasons I love public speaking now. I am sort of addicted to the adrenaline rush of it. It’s exciting. It’s very fun.

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