Video Review: Peter Dinklage

Today we’ll be checking out a segment of a commencement speech given by Peter Dinklage, best known for his role as Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones.


One of the most defining aspects to the presentation is that it just feels real.  I often try to stress the importance of this, but hopefully getting to see an example as outstanding as Peter’s presentation will help to hammer the point home.

From his speed and pacing, to his body language, to his tone and intonation, there’s no part of the speech that feels contrived, or “speechy.”  It doesn’t feel like Peter is “putting on a show.”  You can imagine that he is using exactly the same style of speaking if he were speaking to you, one-on-one, in an intimate conversation.

The more effectively and consistently you can do the same thing, the more your audience will trust and connect with you.

In Peter’s case, the effect goes beyond what he chooses not to do–ie avoiding phony gestures and exaggerated intonations.  If you listen carefully, there are a few pivotal moments where he does a phenomenal job of breathing emotion into key words.

For example, around the twenty second mark, take note of his tone when he confesses the fear he felt walking away from his old job.  Notice the slight tremble in his voice as he says, “I was terrified.”  As the audience, we can almost hear a reflection of the fear he felt in the words themselves, as if just thinking about them was enough to bring back the emotions of that moment.

Even when we can’t always relate to the specifics of a story, we are always able to relate to emotions.  We may not have walked away from an IT job to pursue acting, but we’ve all had that same lump in our throat weighing the pros and cons a life changing decision.

As an added benefit, letting your audience feel like they are able to see you appear vulnerable, appear to be sharing a story so deeply personal that you can’t hide your emotions as you tell it–is profoundly powerful.

(Now, a MAJOR warning: don’t overdo it.  If it looks like you’re obviously feigning or exaggerating an emotion, you can instantly lose any goodwill or credibility you’ve built with your audience up to that point.)

Overall, Peter’s speech works because it creates a sense of intimacy.  We believe him because it just *feels* like something he’s telling us from the bottom of his heart–that he means each and every word he’s saying.

The next time you’re preparing your speech, make sure your tone and your delivery make us feel the same way about you.


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