Justin Patton

1 Important Lesson Senator Marco Rubio Taught Presenters Everywhere

1 Important Lesson Senator Marco Rubio Taught Presenters Everywhere

Marco Rubio stood on the Senate floor October 4, 2013 and taught presenters everywhere one important lesson: DON’T WASTE YOUR WORDS!

Dynamic presenters know the opening words are the most important. Those words should establish a core message for your presentation and create curiosity.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rubio starts his opening at 22 seconds and instead of grabbing our attention he states, “I want to talk, of course, about this week…”  Snooze fest!  As a contender for the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, Marco Rubio knows how to use his words to create an impact, but he did not do it here.

Second, he then goes on to talk about. . .

  • Countdown clocks
  • Who’s going to get the blame
  • Parents wondering why government can’t do their job
  • Rhetoric being used in both the house and senate
  • President’s role


Finally, at 2:51, Senator Rubio says, “What I’m most worried about is that this country faces a very serious crisis and we are running out of time to fix it. Now, there’s no doubt this government slowdown is not a good thing, but it’s not the crisis I’m referring to. This issue about the debt limit, hitting the debt limit, that’s a problem. But that’s not the most serious crisis we face either. The single, most important crisis we face in this country is that for millions of Americans, the promise of the American Dream is literally slipping away through their fingers.”


“The American Dream is literally slipping away through their fingers.”


When presenters take this long to get to their core message and muddy their opening with a myriad of topics, they leave the audience wondering what they’re supposed to think and how all the random points tie together. Fundamentally, you make it harder on yourself to create empathy and gain buy-in right from the beginning.


Take a few minutes to watch Marco Rubio’s opening, We Are Losing the American Dream, speech.



Below are three examples of how Senator Rubio could have made the most of his opening words by creating a clear, interesting core message.


Idea #1: Start with a Thought and Ask a Provocative Question

  • I’m reminded today, when I turn on the television and see every day heroes like Diana Nyad, Antoinette Tuff, and the US Delta Force covered in the news, what the American Dream is all about and why I ran for political office. The founders of our Constitution did not idly stand by when they disagreed, refuse to negotiate, or create a system of compassionless politics. It is our job, each of us in this room today, to ensure that we chart a course for the next wave of every day heroes to reach their American Dream. So I ask you, at what costs are you willing to ensure that American Dream for others?



Idea #2: Start with a Compelling Story then Make a Point

  • Mr. Rubio could have started with the story he shared about the fire on the twin-engine airplane. The story is engaging and has a clear point that connects beautifully to his core message. Additionally, he could have led out of the story and said, “Friends – I believe our American Dream is on fire and I refuse to stand by and let it burn to the ground.”



Idea #3: Start with Your Definition then Ask a Question

  • Senator Rubio could have moved his definition of the American Dream at 5:41 to the beginning of his speech. “You have the God-given right through hard work and perseverance to achieve a better life for yourself and leave your children better off than yourself.” PAUSE. Then say, “We have a problem. How do we, representatives chosen by the people, continue to make that dream a reality when we’ve lost the trust of the very people who put us here?”


Do you have an idea on how Senator Rubio could have created a stronger opening to his presentation? Share it in the comments section below.

Justin Patton