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Best Public Speakers Series: Jacob Schick

We included Jacob Schick in our "Best Public Speakers" list because of his ability to deliver devastatingly emotionally stories in an honest and simple way.

Best Public Speakers

Schick is a third-generation US Marine. He was deployed in Kuwait and Iraq. While in Iraq he was hit by an IED and suffered major injuries. He now speaks about his experiences as a Marine with the intention of helping others overcome trauma. In this video Schick recalls his time in Iraq, his injury, and his recovery.

What are the main communication takeaways?

  • Compassion: It would be easy for Schick to approach his story with a sense of pity or injustice. Instead he infuses his message of healing with compassion for himself, for the marines that came before him, and the people he served with. This allows the audience to experience the same.

  • He Steers Clear of Politics: Stories of war are inherently political. Given the political climate of the United States, it is extremely difficult to speak about any aspect of war without polarizing an audience. Schick never makes his story about political opinions or affiliations. His is not a pro-war or anti-war message--it is a pro-human message, which allows people from either political party to consider the humans that experience of war instead of the politicians who declare it and the policies they support or oppose.

  • Handles Emotional Content Well: This story is inherently emotional. It is devastating. Schick never shies away from the details that make it so. However, he doesn't allow himself to become indulgent in the emotional life that drives the story. In this way he's not insisting that audience feel a specific thing for him. Instead, he delivers the story as an offering, allowing the audience room to feel their own feels without becoming inundated with his.

  • Structure: The order with which Schick releases the information is simple. Sometimes staying in the action, flashing to backstory or pertinent information when necessary. In this way the audience is never lost and always has the information they need to follow him and the surrounding world of military protocols.

How He Could Improve:

He has limited vocal variety and largely speaks in monotone. The rhythm of is story remains steady throughout, and variety may help to further engage his audience.

However, it is important to know that when it comes to speakers who are using personal trauma as a teaching tool, there are no techniques or rules that should be enforced on them. The act of sharing such a story is the most important and brave thing they could do. In Schick's case, technique or a more complex vocal or physical delivery can distort his message or his comfort level. It can demand too much of the person sharing the trauma and perhaps inflict even more on them. Schick is speaking in the way he can. He lets the facts speak for themselves, he highlights the moments of healing as much as the moments of damage, and it is through that act that his story remains effective. No amount of technique can replace that.


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