Mark Grimm

 

Open Letter to My Fellow Elected Republicans

I believe same sex marriage does not threaten heterosexual marriage which is rightfully considered a sacred covenant. Gay marriage makes the institution more inclusive and provides liberation to an entire class of people who have every right to expect such equal treatment.

New York’s historic legislation is a defining moment for civil rights and for our party.  As one gay state senator put it, “there are no villains” in this debate. Many people are grappling with internal conflicts between their deeply held religious beliefs and their strong desire for equality for all citizens.

Shouldn’t we seize this opportunity to confirm once and for all there is nothing wrong with being gay? This is not inconsistent with our Republican values. The first Republican president freed the slaves, challenging the day’s “traditional values.”

Republican opposition to gay marriage often comes from many kind people who believe strongly in their religious view that marriage is strictly between a man and woman.  They, and the church that nurtures such thinking, may hold any view they wish. But are they entitled to impose that view on others who believe differently?

We are hearing again and again that people are “evolving” on this issue. Are they abandoning their values or are they realizing that childhood lessons about praying for homosexuals to somehow see the light no longer stands up to the test of time?

Same sex marriage supports two fundamental values: (1) that we should respect the rights of others even if we disagree (2) that discrimination against people who are different from us must finally end.

Republicans should make no apologies for our traditional values. Our “family values” call for more parental responsibility, more focus on the value of hard work, on less taxation and government interference, on the supremacy of individual liberty, mutual respect, and a belief our futures should be shaped not by government, but by our own actions. Those values also require us to stand up for those who face discrimination, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

If you remain opposed to gay marriage, please reconsider. Supporting gay marriage will make us a stronger party in the long run and a stronger state and nation.

 The writer is a Guilderland, NY Republican councilman

Top Presentation Strategies for Women

We have heard a great deal about the need for women to “empower” themselves. Better presentation skills are surely one of the best ways to achieve that. Women can improve their status at work or in social situations by getting better at making their own case. Of course, there are many other factors affecting such a complicated social issue that need to be addressed, but focusing on better ways to bring home your message in a clear, compelling way has to help.

It is one thing to encounter unfair treatment, it is quite another to make it evident by carefully utilizing important presentation principles. So speak up for yourself more often.

The Audience
The first step is to focus on your audience. Make your presentation about those receiving it. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” What is it that they want to leave with when you are finished speaking?

Researching your audience is where dynamic public speaking begins. Never lose sight of the fact that the audience is the top priority and knowing them well is critical to your success.

About the Nerves
Confront the fears you have. Write them down. By crystallizing our concerns we are able to deal with them one at a time. Don’t place too much weight on your shoulders. Nobody could live with that burden. Take your work seriously, prepare as well as you can, and then go enjoy the experience. If you make a mistake, the consequences are not fatal. Learn from your mistakes and be better the next time.

Clarity
Be clear. We begin by appreciating the value of clarity and by never being satisfied that we are clear enough. Keep stepping back and ask yourself, “How can I make this presentation simpler and clearer?” Don’t forget you’re the expert on the topic, that’s why you are speaking on it in the first place. Your audience members are usually not experts, that’s why they’re listening to you. Evaluate your entire outline and be tough on your writing. Ask frequently, “Do I really need this in there,” “Will that be clear to everyone?” “Why would they care about this?”

Style Counts
Your style is a combination of things — appearance, voice, presence, nonverbal communication, and attitude. Let’s make sure they are all working in your favor when you speak.

We often hear, “Your appearance shouldn’t count. It’s what’s inside of you that matters.” Let’s leave that discussion for the moralists. Appearance does count and it is our task to make the most out of how we look. Appearance counts because audience members often respond to the way we look. Appearance counts because it may affect the way we feel about ourselves.

Your appearance is the first statement you make about how seriously you take your audience. It doesn’t have to be a fashion show, but you should dress well enough to leave the clear impression that you understand the audience’s attention matters a lot. When it comes to appearance, we should do what we can to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

Passion
How you come across has a lot to do with your attitude. Listeners pick up quickly on the signals you send. I cringe when a speaker says, “This is really dry stuff. I hope we can get through it quickly.” Why should I be interested in something if you think it’s boring? I don’t believe the transfer of knowledge is ever boring. It’s the speaker’s role to make it interesting and relevant. Bill Gates once said, “The thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.”

Feedback
Never miss a chance to ask how you did. The feedback is how we improve. Dynamic speaking is a journey and we never should be fully satisfied.

The path presented here for becoming a better presenter is one I have followed myself.  It works! Each of us is special. Each has a lifetime of values, experiences, and emotions to share. That makes you interesting and important. It can make you “dynamic.” I cannot wait to see the best that lies within you!

What Weiner Should Have Done

When the press begins to call a U.S. Congressman the “Peter Tweeter,” there’s a pr problem.

First, let’s be honest. The guy’s name has made it a bigger story. That’s just plain bad luck for him. It reminds us of 1988 presidential contender Gary Hart fooling around with his mistress Donna Rice on the yacht, Monkey Business.

Just today (June 6th), a new report from a conservative website, Big Government, claims it has been contacted by another woman claiming she had exchanged intimate photos and online communications with Congressman Anthony Weiner.

We don’t know what the truth is yet, but it is true Congressman  Weiner has thrown gas on the fire by not being straightforward about a lewd photograph sent from his Twitter account to a college co-ed. Though Weiner claims his account was hacked into (certainly possible), the real story has been the odd approach to answering, or should I say, not answering, media questions. Weiner even refuses to say “with certitude” if the picture is of him.

Weiner is a case study in how not to handle a communication crisis. His obfuscation only prompts further scrutiny. The nature of his answers leads one to believe he is hiding something. The media will not rest until they discover what it is.

Whatever the full story is, it will get a lot more attention now than it would have a week ago because of the firestorm Weiner has created. When bad news hits, get in front of the story, come clean, say you are sorry, and try to move on.
Added Post Script:
Just hours after this post, Weiner held a press conference to announce he’d been lying for days and that he had sent sexual photos and tweets to about six women. Now, his tweets are not his biggest problem, his truthfulness is now in play. What a horribly mismanaged communication crisis.

Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor/producer and adjunct journalism professor who runs a small training and media relations business.