Great Olympics, John but the speech needed work

Like most Canadians, I watched the closing ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics last night.  I think the Vancouver Organizing Committee did an awesome job.  And that’s why I was so disappointed by  John Furlong’s closing speech.  Not the speech itself, which was brilliantly written, but by his delivery.
First, he started off in some of the worst French I’ve heard in my life.  Truly awful and, in my opinion, a little demeaning, both to French Canada and to French people around the world.  And, unfortunately, his English delivery wasn’t much better.

He read the text

He read virtually the entire prepared text, word for word.  And he did it in a flat uninspired manner that left what could have been inspiring text lifeless and dull.  His writer had prepared some powerful phrases that called for a rousing delivery, followed by  pauses to let the audience share in the moment.  Instead, he read one sentence after another, pausing only when the audience broke into spontaneous applause at the mention of specific events.

A back story

There has to be a back story behind this delivery because a speech as high profile as that one for an event as important as the Olympics has to have the budget for some coaching.  My suspicion is that either Furlong refused or resisted coaching.  And he may have had his reasons.  Or perhaps he’s one of those rare individuals who simply cannot – or does not – see the value in putting power in their words.

I congratulate the committee

Whatever the reasons, I was disappointed for everyone, including him, that his closing presentation did not live up to all that he had accomplished in leading the preparations for what was truly an exhilarating event.  I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt because he did so much for so many people all over the world.  I congratulate him and the entire organizing committee and I sincerely hope the next time he’s invited to speak at a high profile event that he’ll make the most of some presentation training.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

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