Manner of Speaking

Analysis of a Speech by Mark Bezos

I recently came across this TED Talk by Mark Bezos, the Senior Vice-President of Development, Communications and Events at Robin Hood, a leading poverty-fighting charity in New York City. He is also the Assistant Captain of a volunteer fire company in Westchester County, New York, where he lives with his wife and four children.

Firefighters are bona fide heroes. In this talk, however, Bezos recounts one of his unexpected acts of heroism that taught him an important lesson. Have a look — it’s less than four minutes — and then we’ll examine the talk from a public speaking perspective.

So what can we learn about public speaking from Mark Bezos? Here are some thoughts.

What could Bezos have done to make the speech even better? Honestly, not a whole lot in my opinion. It was a touching speech, with an important message, delivered very well. Just watch the audience’s reaction at the end.

If I had one suggestion for Bezos, it would be to slow down a bit more at the beginning. For the first minute of the speech, he spoke more quickly and did not pause as much as he did afterwards. I put it down to nerves and the excitement of speaking at TED.

To avoid this in the future, I would recommend doing some warm up exercises before going on stage — swinging the arms; stretching; clapping the hands; voice exercises — anything to get the blood flowing and the vocal chords warmed up. Watch the athletes before any sporting event. What do they do? They warm up. Speakers should do likewise.

All in all, however, a great speech by Mark Bezos.