Friday, March 23, 2007

need a candidate for a good opening line?

When we tell folks that our name, don't get caught, refers to not getting caught unprepared, we have in mind moments like the ones we heard last week, when NPR gave airtime to coverage of the 2008 presidential candidates who flocked to speak to the 1,000 members of the International Association of Firefighters, meeting here in Washington. "Over the course of a long day, it wasn't all serious," reported Don Gonyea, who captured two gaffes from the candidate pool. Interestingly, both occurred in the moments during the speakers' introductory words -- in our experience, the first moment when speakers are tempted to go off script, but shouldn't. Some examples from the story:

- Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback's introduction aimed for a joke that, well, misfired: "I hope there are no fires breaking out anywhere across the country with all you guys here." He did his own first responding and quickly regrouped to say "I'm sure people are covering."

- "The day's oddest moment," according to Gonyea, belonged to New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton's opening remarks. "Thanks so much, and thanks for last night, too," she said. (She was referring to a reception the evening before.) As the largely male audience laughed, she realized her gaffe and laughed, too.

Gonyea's take? The candidates are "still working out their material." Ours? They recovered quickly and genially -- always a good look to laugh at yourself -- but you should work out your opening, no matter how casual, and stick to your plan. First impressions still count, and we can help you work on yours to create a strong start to your next speech. Check out the full Morning Edition story here.

Check out our sister blog, The Eloquent Woman, for more on giving great speeches and presentations and become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook.

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