Tag Archives: Sincerity

Caitlyn Jenner Gave A Remarkable ESPY Speech

I’ve written about Caitlyn Jenner before and now I am compelled to write about her again having just watched her remarkable ESPY speech.  It was just about perfect. Here’s why.

It was well-written. Someone – maybe Caitlyn, maybe someone else – put it together with rhythm, which means it had a clear narrative arc and was interspersed with stories that kept us engaged. I loved the stories about her former life as an elite athlete.

It was well-rehearsed. Boy, Caitlyn Jenner was prepared. I think she might have been reading from a teleprompter, but let me say this: If so, she had practiced it, most likely changing the words as she read through it so they’d feel right and sound like spoken language.

It was well-delivered. I’d have advised her to use her hands more, but watch her posture, head movement, facial expression, and stance (she was stuck at that mic). Listen to her voice – very expressive, rate and pace conscious, solid projection. BTW, she did not force her voice to become higher or feminize it in any way. This is always a conundrum for trans people because the speaking voice doesn’t necessarily change with the body. Voice training can help, but male and female vocal characteristics are immutable and it can often sound odd.  As a voice expert, this was a courageous and unusual choice all by itself.

It was emotional. And consistent with the award she won. Coming so soon after she first announced her transition, Caitlyn Jenner is still a mystery to a large contingent of the sports world, which trends homophobic and macho at best and absolutely hateful and worse toward trans people. She set them straight, saying in essence, “have at me, boys, I can take it.” But also implying, “Don’t fuck with trans youngsters. I’ve got their back, I’m running interference for all of them and you know I can do it.” Perhaps not with athletic prowess any more, but with this new platform. And I loved her shoutout to her family and kids.

It was perfect.

It’s Wedding Season

This time of year brings lots of inquiries that go something like this: “I have to give a toast at a wedding, and I don’t know what to say/want it to be funny/i’m scared to death…” and the like. (A funny thing is it’s often a wife who will call on behalf of her husband. Hmmm.)

My first response is, “Relax, this is the most fun you’ll have in public speaking and a great opportunity to impress family, friends, and maybe even bosses and colleagues.”

Besides my usual advice to prepare and practice (a lot), and embrace any stage fright, here are some additional steps:

  • No alcohol beforehand. This is a huge mistake so many people make. Drinking doesn’t relax you, it dulls you, throws you off your game.
  • Don’t embarrass the bride or groom. Or anyone else. Stories should be warm and funny, touching.
  • Be emotional. Don’t break down in sobs, but it’s ok to well up a little. This is one of the only venues this type of thing is acceptable.
  • Keep it short: 5 minutes at most, provided it’s entertaining. We speak at approximately 140 wpm (words per minute), so do the math.
  • Don’t read it. You can use notes to stay on track. Practicing will help you learn it so it seems more spontaneous.

After you’re done, and you have everyone laughing, crying, thinking, “Wow, that was perfect,” raise your glass and celebrate the happy couple — and yourself — by taking a nice, big swig.