The scene was the presidential debate. The debaters were the incumbent President Jimmy Carter and Governor Ronald Reagan.
An hour into the debate, during a rather lengthy rebuttal, President Carter went on to say “Gov. Reagan, as a matter of fact, began his political career campaigning around this nation against medicare…”
Master orator Governor Reagan started off his reply with his star powered laughter followed by “There you go again…”
You have to watch it to appreciate the spontaneity of the whole thing.
The results of that election was decided that night – with just those four words.
If you are wondering – NO – this is not about politics. Ok – I will stand corrected. Just the example is from the political scene.
The single biggest question that plagues the minds of curious audience is whether the speaker that they were listening to memorized his/her speech or delivered it impromptu.
To settle the matter before it is too late – every great speech delivered by every great speaker takes an enormous amount of scripting and painfully repetitive rehearsals to get to a level of practiced perfection. And if they deliver it right, you would wonder how on earth can someone remember and say so much without referring to the notes or much preparation.
So, there, that is the truth. Very few, if any, planned speeches are done impromptu. The rest are all ‘Planned Spontaneity’ or in the case of Gov. Reagan ‘Practiced Spontaneity’. Behind that polished presence is knee hurting, tongue twisting, tiring and repeated practices.
Lest there be any doubt, the case was just made for practicing speeches, big and small, a million times before finally letting it loose on unsuspecting audiences. And that is even true for speakers who have done it forty years or more.
So, what does Gov. Reagan have to do with all this? His seemingly innocuous remark came out like it was an off the cuff remark. However, behind that mischievous innocence was planned spontaneity that was practiced and perfected days before the actual debate. However, given Gov. Reagan’s oratorial skills, the remark came out like it was a natural reaction to the President’s rather serious allegation.
Gov. Reagan would go on to claim other experiences of spontaneity, but we know better now.
This is about practicing and rehearsing. Not memorizing. And certainly a topic for another day.