1) I’ve been teaching public speaking for over half a century, and of all the professional activities in which I’ve been involved, it’s the one I enjoy the most. One downside, though, is that as I watch and listen to speakers it always frustrates me when they exhibit annoying habits that are easily remedied. When a speaker has a habit that annoys even one person, then that one person is distracted from clearly hearing the speaker’s message. A speaker’s objective should always be to convince as many people as possible. Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau each have one consistently annoying, but easily remedied, habit. In Obama’s case he constantly swivels his head from the extreme left to the extreme right, seemingly never stopping in the middle. The result is that the bulk of his audience, which, whether in person or watching TV, is in the middle, feels left out. Worse than that, when watching Obama speak many people start to anticipate the swivel, which means they’re paying even less attention to his message. It’s been suggested to me that perhaps it’s because his teleprompters are placed off to each side. If that’s the case then he needs one in the middle. Now to Justin Trudeau. When he’s reading from a script, he’s fine. But when he’s speaking off the cuff, his remarks are riddled with ums and ahs, which the patron saint of public speaking, Dale Carnegie, called word whiskers. Trudeau sports a veritable beard of them. It’s been my experience that this habit is usually caused by of one of two things: trying to say something when thinking of something else; or, starting to speak before deciding exactly what to say. Both are easily remedied: simply stop doing it.
2) From my mid-teens until I settled into my career as a chartered accountant in my early 20s I took a number of aptitude tests, every single one of which overwhelmingly indicated that I should be in sales. Yet I never spent even a minute in a sales job. I think the reason for this is that somehow I just intuitively understood the keys to successful selling. Super salesman Percy H Whiting, in his best-selling book The Five Great Rules of Selling, characterized these as knowing how to: get attention; arouse interest; be convincing; stimulate desire for something; and, close the deal. Having spent no time in sales, this suggests to me that although most skills are learned there are some with which we are born.
3) I’m not at all surprised that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld Dennis Wideman’s twenty-game suspension for deliberately running over linesman Don Henderson. From the get-go the only possible explanation for Wideman’s action, other than sheer culpability, was that he had suffered a concussion when hit in the corner just prior to the incident. This was initially belied because the team didn’t subject him to the league’s concussion protocol and, I’m pretty sure, he didn’t miss a shift. I’ve carefully reviewed Bettman’s twenty-two page ruling and find myself in the unusual position of agreeing wholeheartedly with the commissioner. The NHL Players’ Association had two psychologists testify at the hearing to the effect that Wideman “possibly” had been concussed. However, Bettman discredited their testimony as effectively as Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer shredded the credibility of the complainants in his trial. Bettman, in his ruling, said, “In sum, I find that the expert testimony presented on behalf of the player was speculative, at times contradictory, lacked support and was wholly insufficient to rebut the clear and convincing evidence provided by the video footage of the incident.” Neither of the NHLPA’s expert witnesses had actually examined Wideman. In the press release accompanying his ruling, Bettman also commented that Wideman’s apologies seemed insincere, citing in particular a text that Wideman sent to a teammate in which he wrote, “The only reason I’m here is cause (sic) the stupid refs and stupid media.” The NHLPA is going to appeal to a “neutral arbitrator.” If he or she is truly neutral, I expect, based on Bettman’s well-documented ruling, that the suspension will be upheld. The suspension, whatever length it eventually turns out to be, is costing Wideman $28,225.81 per game.