Summer 2017 was full of unplanned circumstances in the United States. From chaotic street violence to devastating storms, the events caused anxious U.S. citizens to seek information and leadership as they tried to right themselves.

Public speaking isn’t something that’s always easy—especially in times of grief or unrest.

But when audiences are fearful, angry and upset, leaders must focus on delivering compelling messages with confidence and compassion.

To get people to listen to and believe what is being said, the speaker must act confidently and exude the right amount of energy. Rather than making his or her emotions apparent, the speaker needs to present information in a calm and collected manner. Here are just two examples of how leaders have responded to recent emergencies.

Texas and Florida Hurricanes

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, followed by the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Florida. The resulting devastation was not an easy topic to address—whether before, during or after the storms hit. Leaders had to gauge the emotions of the audience before they presented the messages they were to deliver. They connected with the audience to convey critical information, but also to show sympathy and foster courage.

Florida Governor Rick Scott addressed all of Florida about the emergency situation that was to come. His message to the state’s residents was calm and purposeful. He addressed the hurricane as any strong speaker should: with control and passion.

What we can learn from Governor Rick Scott’s speech:

  • Scott spoke to specific actions that were underway — the fact that there was a plan being implemented was calming during a stressful situation.
  • He had a call to action and was deliberate in what he wanted from his audience.
  • Like McAuliffe, Governor Scott’s pace was measured and purposeful. He didn’t rush his message.

Charlottesville, VA Demonstrations

After the volatile incidents that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe stepped up to the plate to call for calm among residents in both his state and the nation. He stood in front of the audience demonstrating poise and confidence as a way of helping diffuse a highly-charged environment. Although this may not have been easy and he was speaking on a controversial topic, his public speaking skills were memorable.

Takeaways from Governor McAuliffe’s speech:

  • Governor McAuliffe controlled his pace. As passionate as he was and as controversial as the topic was, he resisted any urge to speed up.
  • He uses pauses effectively and lets his message be processed by the audience.
  • He looks directly at the audience. He didn’t rely on notes, but he spoke from the heart. McAuliffe’s speech was clearly prepared, but he didn’t read a prepared speech. As a result, he was authentic.

From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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