Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner on Connecting with an Audience
A couple of months ago, I sat down with Mayor Sylvester Turner and asked how he is able to connect so well with audiences. His reputation as a brilliant communicator spans his 26-year career as a Texas legislator, sent him to the top of the ticket during the mayoral candidate debates in 2015, and continues to serve him as he speaks at 15 to 25 engagements a month.
Here’s some of the wisdom he passed on:
Speak with passion and authenticity
“People need to know who you are and what you stand for before you can talk about issues. If you speak with passion and authenticity, you’re in a better position to be persuasive. I believe people have the ability to sense your true heart. Past your words, they can sense your passion.”
“Your audience must sense your position; they need to see that you believe in what you’re saying.”
Share your Story
“Sharing your story is important because it’s your story that shapes your beliefs. People should be able say, ‘This is what this guy believes.’”
“Highlight the values you share with your audience. How did holding on to those values propel you to where you are?”
People should be able say, ‘This is what this guy believes.’
Give Attention to your Audience
“Get their attention soon. The introduction must hit hard and the conclusion must close strong. The meat goes right in the middle.”
“Look at the audience. They will tell you if they’re interested, agree, disagree, and if you’re speaking too long”
What if you face hostility during Q&A sessions or while making an argument in an open forum?
“I’m not the only passionate person out there. Sometimes you need to put the brakes on; ratchet it down, and just listen.”
To read the full article detailing my interview with Mayor Turner, Houston’s Great Communicator, check out the July issue of International Focus Magazine.