Written By: G. Riley Mills
At Wednesday’s inauguration, youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman captivated the nation with the striking poignancy of her words and the poise she exuded during the delivery of her remarkable poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
You wouldn’t know it, but until just a few years ago she suffered from a speech impediment (something else that she shares with President Biden). How did she overcome that and the nerve rattling situation of addressing the entire world?
Here are some lessons from Amanda Gorman that made her performance exceptional:
- Master preparation. Gorman didn’t simply get onstage and read her words. She embodied the words and took us on a journey as listeners. She did this with intensive preparation to ensure she would shine on the day. She spent two months researching the material for the poem and rehearsing the performance itself. She even practiced the poem on the actual stage prior to Inauguration Day.
- Using vocal dynamics. The way Gorman leverages her voice during the reading of the poem–her pitch, pacing, inflection and articulation– is a masterclass in how to nail a confident and relaxed delivery. She takes us on a journey and builds the drama until the final lines.
- Simple gestures. For most of the poem, Gorman stands still, letting the words flow like honey. Then she punctuates her words with the occasional gesture, bringing laser-like focus to a specific word or idea she wants us to pay special attention to, such as “victorious,” “envision,” “blade,” “bridges.”
- Generating emotion. From the very start, Gorman infuses her poem and performance with powerful imagery, as well as feelings and emotions such as hope and inspiration. (“There is always light if only we are brave enough to see it…If only we are brave enough to be it.”). By bringing strong intention to her delivery, listeners feel every word, picture every image and mirror every aspiration.
We can all learn from these lessons, and many of them are key tenets that Pinnacle Performance Company honors when conducting communication skills training. Are you interested in taking the necessary steps to become a better communicator? Pinnacle Performance Company can help: www.pinper.com