Most people were swept off their feet by the amazing newcomer Lupita Nyong'o for her role as "Patsy" in "Twelve Years a Slave". Her superb performance won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Earlier today People Magazine named her as the Most Beautiful Person of 2014.
In the above video, the world-class actress can be seen giving a speech at Essences 2014 Black Women in Hollywood awards. For anyone with even a modest empathy quotient it is a very moving speech. And she is an outstanding actor - very used to speaking in front of crowds and on television - and yet she is very human during this speech. How could she have improved? What could she have done differently?
The speech was very well written. The words were near perfect. Very few people could have read them more skillfully - and yet they were READ.
If Lupita were right next to me, I know she would say that she had all the content of the speech in her mind - and more importantly in her heart. So rather than READING the speech, if her notes contained only one word bullet points rather than sentences and paragraphs - it would have had a completely different style and feel - that of a "Conversational Speech". She would have glanced at one or two words (e.g. Prayers, God, Oprah or Alek Wek) - and in that instant she would have had words and sentences flow spontaneously - that maybe weren't quite as well crafted - but would have felt more conversational.
To members of the audience, a conversational speech feels as if they are being spoken WITH directly - like they are part of the dynamics of conversation (even though they're not) rather than being spoken to - ergo it feels conversational even though a speech is a monologue.
What the audience is left with in a conversational speech is a much stronger bond with the speaker - and the speaker will in turn enjoy the benefits of significantly greater rapport with her audience. However, in order to pull off a conversational speech - the speaker has to know the topic extremely thoroughly.
Because Lupita was reading the speech - her eye contact was significantly lower than it should have been. And when she looked up, as virtually everyone who READS a speech however skillfully - her eyes dart quickly up and back down again or they make short little sweeps. When the speech is one of conversational style and not memorized, there is ample opportunity to make eye contact (in a random pattern) with people in the audience for about three to four seconds apiece. This is also nonverbal communication magic when it comes to having the effect of making people feel as they are directly involved in the conversation. Even if you're in the audience and very aware of this phenomenon, it's power is still undeniable.
Notice also that Ms. Nyong'o rocked back and forth on her feet - repeatedly shifting her weight from one foot to the other. This is a clear body language signal of nervousness. Lupita is an Oscar winner and yet she still committed this faux pas. Of course she is human and she is allowed to have anxiety. Yet if she would have spoken in a conversational style rather than reading the superbly crafted speech - her foot rocking would have disappeared.
Ms. Lupita Nyong'o.
Although this is a low resolution image of Oprah Winfrey (in the audience during Lupita's speech) - what emotion she is trying to suppress in this moment?
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