How to be credible on stage – take it from Condi

One of the best parts of my job is to see amazing people that you and I know through TV or world events, speak live. This week I had a chance to moderate a panel of executives in the franchise world and then stay to see Dr. Condoleezza Rice give a keynote presentation for about 5000 attendees.  I was very impressed with her for several reasons.  As I watched her, I kept thinking she just oozed credibility.  This is what I loved about her brilliant speech, and it had nothing to do with her content!

1. She told an inspiring story about how her grandfather wanted to go to college. He ran out of 'cotton money' after the first year. Asked how others could afford the college and found out that if he wanted to have college paid for like the others, he would need a scholarship – which he got.  It was an inside look into her history, a personal story from her own life that made her real, approachable, and inspiring.

2. She courageously shared opinions without being brash.  You know how some people are so opinionated that it's a real turn off? Not so with Condoleezza. She had a way of stating her opinion, knowing that not everyone agreed with her, without being loud, or aggressive about it.  What I realized was, she wasn't trying to convince us of seeing things her way, she was just sharing her thoughts.  Made me think that if I wanted to have people be open to seeing things differently, I shouldn't focus on the convincing, I should just focus on what I know for sure.

3. Her Q and A was inspiring.  She told us at the beginning that she would be open to questions so get ready.  She also said that if no one asked any questions, she would not hesitate to call on people! Her delivery was so easy going, you almost forgot she was addressing 5000 people! There was no shortage of questions, either. People asked her about Benghazi, immigration reform, charter schools and what's next for her.  Each question that was asked, she gave thought provoking answers that were so articulate, it was as if she had prepared her answers ahead of time.  We know that wasn't possible, so what gives?  I think she just knows her stuff.  And, she knows a lot of stuff! 

What I learned from watching this brilliant woman was to be confident in what I know, tell a compelling story to open my audience up to me, and do not be afraid of Q and A.  

From your inspired to do more Q and A motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. Marilyn, this is a GREAT example of what it takes to be the kind of motivational speaker who is real, authentic, credible and effective! And isn't it fabulous that because of our work, we get to see some of the best in the world! Thank you for sharing your observations.

  2. That must have been an awesome experience!  I admire how you were able to distill her presentation down to 3 observations that impacted you.  Thank you for sharing those points with your other motivational speaker friends!

  3. I too love a motivational speaker who is real and genuine. That's why I like you, Marilyn. And, you, Polly. And, you, Linda. And you, Colette. And, you, Mike. Okay, this is getting tiring. :) But it's true that genuine wins on stage every time. And I don't think you can fake that.  That reminds me of the blog post Colette wrote about persuasive stories:


  4. This is awesome — thanks for sharing this with us.  And, the things seem so basic but, in reality, are not easy to pull off. Plus, you have to "know your stuff!" :-)

  5. Marilyn, having been blessed to see Condi myself a few years back, I so connect with your takeaways. I remember thinking I wish she had the energy and time to speak to every girl on the planet. Even the fact that she was groomed to be a concert pianist but switched careers as a strategy. How many of us are afraid to change the status quo after investing time and energy in one direction. And thanks Kelly for mentioning my prior post. Appreciate you all!

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