Jeff Kagan: Giving a Speech Like the Pope

Jeff Kagan  |

As an industry analyst, I’ve been speaking at large and small meetings for many years. I talk about where we’ve come from, where we are today and where we are heading tomorrow as an industry. I always watch, listen and learn from the best speakers around. This morning I watched the Pope speak to the US Congress and melted as I listened. While I had a hard time understanding certain words in the speech, I was still riveted. Why?

Whether you are speaking to your Board of Directors, shareholders, employees or customers, there are certain keys, which can make you remarks successful. Understanding this will help make you successful.

The Pope may not be the best speaker, but his message is listened to by the masses. He captures everyone’s attention, and I would say the presentation was absolutely amazing. Everyone listened closely and absorbed every word like it was air or water.

So, as we try and learn from the best, what can we learn from the Pope on the subject of speaking? As I watched, I think so much of this success is the fact the tables are turned when we listen to the Pope. Let me explain...

What We Can Learn from the Pope

Generally speaking, when we listen to a speech on industry, politics or self-improvement, we consider ourselves on the same level as the speaker. We are listening because they are just like us. We are listening because they have learned something they want to share. 

Next, industry leaders tend to be put on a higher level because of their success and their views. However, even industry leaders are ordinary people, just like you and me. I have learned this because I have shared plenty of time backstage with other industry leaders as we prepare to give our prepared remarks. We are all human.

However, the Pope comes at this from a different direction.

We don’t consider the Pope to be our equal. We consider the Pope to be on a completely different level. Human of course, but with a deeper understanding of life, religion and God. This means the average audience considers the Pope to be a great source of divine inspiration to the rest of the world.

Think of it this way: When we were children, we thought our teachers, doctors, and in fact anyone older than us knew it all. We held them in high esteem. Then, as we grew up, these just became regular people to us. They may know more about one thing or another, but they were just like us.

The Pope, however, remains at that highest spiritual level, and that is where we are captivated.

When the Pope gives a speech, he helps us understand life. He helps us understand the rules of living a good life and of helping others. However, that mindset seems to conflict with so many of us in our everyday lives.

We may believe in our personal life and our spiritual life, but we must conform in our work life or our social life - if for no other reason than we just don’t want to rock the boat.

Something Changes Inside

However, when we get to see the Pope - live and in person, or even in our homes like we did this morning - something changes inside. We suddenly seem closer to understanding some of life’s more complex questions.

This is a warm and special time. This is a frame of mind we all wish we could keep forever. Unfortunately, it typically passes. The Pope goes home and life goes back to normal with us. We get involved with political spats and competitive battles in business, family and life itself.

How can we keep some of the goodwill the Pope brings today to our shores, even after he goes home? That’s the question we should be asking. That’s the question we each have to answer on our own.

As My Speaking Calendar Fills

My speaking calendar fills each spring and fall, and this year is no exception. So, as I give speeches at industry and company meetings, large and small, I try to integrate some of the best techniques I learn from others. And I have learned plenty from the Pope today.

However, the challenge is, how can I incorporate anything I have learned into a simple 30-minute keynote? Is it even possible? That’s the challenge. It may be difficult, but after watching the Pope capture the imagination of a nation today, it is something I would love to tap into. I was blessed just to be able to watch and experience his remarks earlier today. columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:



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