Black Beaver boarded the downtown #4 subway train at the Brooklyn Bridge stop. Within 30 seconds he and his guitar were set up and he singled out the man in blue to sing to. Blue broke into a smile. The rest of the subway car had a similar mood shift. The next song was for the Chinese man sitting across from Black Beaver.
By time Black Beaver exited at the next stop he was loaded down in dollar bills and change. Those of us in communications immediately picked up on the lessons he delivered for public speakers. They include:
Engage immediately. Black Beaver didn't bother setting the stage. He created the stage with his presence and guitar.
Involve the audience. We all were hoping that Black Beaver would sing to us directly.
Have confidence that you can trigger a mood shift. Black Beaver knew he could move the hardened crowd on the #4 heading into the financial district to smiles and outright laughter.
The only better role models I have run into have been speakers at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings who tell the way it had been, how they bit the bullet and got sober, and how it is now. Corporate executives who want to improve their oral communications skills can attend open meetings at AA, which are listed online as well as by calling the local office of AA.