The President’s secrets

Authors Gil and Nili Peretz show readers how they can captivate audiences, persuade and pitch anything.

By RONIT MATHIAS
April 7, 2012 02:04
US President Obama at South, North Korea DMZ

Obama at South Korea DMZ 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Months before the 2012 elections in the US, an Israeli couple uncovered Barack Obama’s “magical rhetoric” secrets. As one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership and communication skills, international expert Gil Peretz, together with wife Nili, has cracked the code of US President Barack Obama’s public speaking techniques. In their book Obama’s Secrets, authors Gil and Nili Peretz show readers how they can captivate audiences, persuade and pitch anything.

Nili, what is the bottom line of your book?

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One does not have to be Reagan, Clinton or Jack Welch to be magnetic, charismatic, captivating and a master of words. We show our readers how to program messages so that they stick with audiences by focusing on right-brain techniques.

Gil, what major communication mistakes do many corporate leaders make?

Many business leaders I meet in my seminars across the globe think that hard data will influence subordinates. But in today’s troubled economy, they must first overcome workers’ fears and uncertainty by addressing their emotions. When you communicate, it’s not what you say; it’s what they feel.

As an expert on business performance improvement, global companies based in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific invite you to present dynamic workshops designed to inspire their people to action. Do you have a personal secret for success?

Gil: For every speech I deliver, I plan one “wow” moment -- either a story, magic or action -- that audiences will remember and tweet about. All the world’s a stage.

Do you need to use humor in your speeches?

Gil: Only if I want to be paid and be invited to speak again.

According to surveys, many people would rather die than speak in public. How can your book help them?

Nili: You can learn to control stage fright and use it to your advantage in your public speaking efforts. When you know how to prepare for a presentation, you can eliminate most of your butterflies.

Not too many people know that just a few years ago, President Obama was an average communicator; but he knew that communication was the key to succeeding in his career, and he endeavored to improve. What he has learned, anyone can learn. President Clinton, too, wrote in his autobiography about his own poor communication skills. Successful communication is a learned technique.

All the stars learned it. In order to succeed in your career, you have to communicate effectively.

Gil: Whether you’re afraid of public speaking and want to overcome that fear or you speak in front of audiences as a regular part of your job and want to hone your skills, Obama’s Secrets can show you how.

Nili: Gil really is a living example of his message. It’s quite something to see. He’s up there using his full range of knowledge to really connect with his audience and inspire them, even using magic and props to engage audience members. His seminars are one of a kind — exciting, innovative, and, most important, practical.

Are there differences from country to country in the audiences you meet?

Gil: Certainly. There are cultural differences everywhere I go. For example, in Germany we’ve found that audiences tend to be what we call in the field of neurolinguistics “leftbrain” oriented — that is, they tend to be very analytical. On the other hand, we find that American audiences tend to be more right-brain oriented, focusing on emotions and personal connections.

Would you say you are “Obama fans”?

Gil: It’s very clear that Obama is highly influential and charismatic. But the book isn’t about whether or not we are his fans.

In that respect, the book doesn’t take sides one way or another. Obama’s Secrets is a book that investigates, identifies, and then breaks down just that: Obama’s secrets for successful communication. Right now we’re seeing a lot of debate with the upcoming elections in the US, and I think there are several examples that can be used to illustrate my point. Take Mitt Romney. He has in recent debates made certain, shall we say, “slips.” But these are mistakes that can be avoided if he were to learn the same techniques Obama uses and to practice them.

So if the Republican Party wanted to hire you as a consultant, would you agree to work with its candidate?

Gil: Sure. I can work with any candidate. I think I know what President Obama should communicate in order to be re-elected, and I absolutely know what and how a charismatic Republican candidate could deliver effective messages that will engage and transform his audiences.

Who do you think will win the November elections in the US?

Gil: If Obama communicates his messages with the same level of energy he did in 2008, he will win. He can beat oil prices and other domestic and economic challenges he might face. But here is my outside-the-box prediction: Chelsea Clinton might run for president as soon as 2020 or 2024; and if she decides to do so, she might be the first elected woman US president. Chelsea has the potential to develop an ideal mix of her father’s charisma and her parents’ political wisdom.

Has President Obama read your book?

President Obama knows about our book but does not to need to read a book about his own secrets. We gave it to many of his senior consultants -- the US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and American lawyer, jurist and political commentator Alan Dershowitz, as well as our Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Nili, a final word...?

Many people think that if they weren’t born with a talent for public speaking, they’ll never be able to do it. And that’s just not true. Anyone can learn. Yes, they can.


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