A successful public speaker has the ability to push a controversial subject to near the tipping point, but not a bit further. They introduce topics or messages which might spark a wide range of emotions including shock and awe. What separates an effective public speaker from just another shock-jock is the ability to communicate a continuous message reinforced with knowledge and facts that ultimately motivate an audience to act or consider a change of opinion—while maintaining respect for their values.
On the other hand, there is The View’s Rosie O’Donnell who has once again successfully managed to deliver an unsuccessful message to the audience of The View. Monday, Rosie O’Donnell and her conservative co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, argued combatively about the war in Iraq – covering topics ranging from the casualties of war to whether our soldiers in Iraq are terrorists. O’Donnell’s remarks became so inflammatory that ABC actually bleeped her live on the air. I can’t say I blame them. Rosie lost any remaining shreds of credibility the moment she showed an utter lack of respect for the opinions of her fellow panelists, live audience, and viewers at home. What is an audience (or television network) to do?
I wonder if O’Donnell’s agreeable NY audience motivates the frequent rants which usually end in co-host alienation or embarrassment. Would she continue her tirades in a different, more moderate setting? While settings and audience loyalties matter, successful public speakers don’t force the audience to emotionally choose their way or the highway… they build their point of view gradually, highlight tangible facts, offer solutions and results and ultimately invite the audience to become advocates and evangelists for their cause.
Would I consider Rosie O’Donnell a thought-leader on public policy? No way — especially not when she treats others with so little respect. A well-thought-out industry point-of-view that invites me to consider all sides of a topic is far more trustworthy and compelling than an empty, emotional one-sided rant.