Public speaking lessons from Judge Kavanaugh

The Supreme Court nominee’s speech showcases the value of a strong first impression.

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First impressions are important, especially when you’re suddenly in the spotlight.

When Brett Kavanaugh stepped to the microphone Monday night, July 9, after President Donald Trump introduced him as his nominee to the Supreme Court, it was the first time many Americans heard him speak.

For Kavanaugh, the televised speech was an opportunity not only to set the tone for his confirmation process but to introduce himself to the American public. Yes, there are those who disliked him from the start, but there are many who weren’t familiar with him and likely have no opinion of him. Political philosophies aside, Judge Kavanaugh gave a speech that offers several lessons for public speakers:

Know the occasion

When we teach public speaking workshops, we talk about the importance of knowing the purpose and the occasion for your speech. Speakers can easily miss the mark and come across as disconnected if they forget what the audience is expecting them to do. Are you there to educate? Entertain? Inspire? For Kavanaugh, the purpose was to introduce himself to the American public—without any major blunders—and build a launchpad for his confirmation process.

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