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Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, was known as “the great communicator.” One of his most famous statements was made while making a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987. During this speech, President Reagan threw down this challenge:

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Interestingly enough, the “tear down this wall” statement was vehemently opposed by foreign policy experts in Washington and had heavily lobbied the President to not make the “tear down this wall” statement. Ultimately, the lobbying was ignored and Reagan included the challenge in the speech. That was in 1987. On November 9th, 1989, the border separating East Germany from West Germany was open and the wall came tumbling down. The Fall of The Wall will forever be used as a symbol for the end of the cold war; which arguably was Reagan’s greatest achievement as President.

Think back to some great communicators like Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., or John F. Kennedy. What made them great communicators? It wasn’t that they were great orators, had flashy teeth, sported perfect hair, or demonstrated a flawless writing style. They had the following:

• Courage – they weren’t afraid to speak out against the status quo and challenge conventional wisdom.
• Conviction – they felt strongly about their ideas and wanted others to know their viewpoint.
• Wisdom – they knew their subject matter cold and could defend their ideas effectively.
• Clarity – their message was simple, concise, and easily understood.
• Credibility – they were trusted by others and walked the talk.

Courage. Conviction. Wisdom. Clarity. Credibility. Five attributes that are essential, regardless of whether you are speaking in front of hundreds of people, writing a report to your boss, or running a PTA board meeting. Five attributes that build the foundation of someone who gets his or her point across effectively.

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