The Ground Hog’s Speaking Skills

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am proud to introduce our next speaker:  Punxsutawney Phil, weather predictor extraordinaire. This ground hog has been predicting the approach of spring for centuries. According to an old English ditty:

Candlemas is a Christian holiday also known as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord. It is on February 2 every year.)

Punxsutawney Phil is not an original. Various forms of Candlemas, with its springtime predictions can be found in early cultures throughout Europe. hedgehogs, badgers and other small winter burrowing animals served as predictors. As Europeans settled in America, they brought the custom with them. The Germans adopted the ground hog as the American version when they settled in Pennsylvania.

Phil is not only a good weatherman; he’s also a great public speaker. There are several fundamental principles for preparing for a public address, and Phil has learned them well.

In preparation, Punxsutawney Phil first considers the basic questions:

Is this communication necessary? Of course it’s necessary. People have been counting on Phil to make this address for centuries. This communication is expected on February 2nd with no exception.

  • What is my purpose? Phil’s purpose is to provide a prediction of how long it will be until spring.

Who is my audience? Everyone across the nation will be listening for Phil’s proclamation. The populace of Punxutawney, PA will be there in person, along with farmers and others who make the annual pilgrimage. They are all gathering just to hear his predictions first hand. Plus there will be journalists, reporters and TV cameras waiting to spread his prophesy far and wide.

Other considerations Phil  most likely ponders:

Phil understands his own limitations. Once identified, he can work on compensating for these through practice and planning.

  • Nerves are not an issue; he pops his head out of a hole, makes his prediction, and jumps back down the hole. He can get it over with before his nerves catch up with him.
  • Body language has been practiced to make sure it complements the message. Depending on the weather on 2 February, he either looks terrified and jumps back into his hole, or he nonchalantly looks at the sky, his surroundings and his audience before lazily turning back to his underground den.
  • Quality of Voice is controlled. Unlike many speakers, Pete is fully aware of his rate of speech, volume of his voice, and the use of pitch and pause to engage listeners.

Phil considers the use of visual aids. Some years he tried using an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses. They interfered with his jump back into the hole. So he now chooses not to use any visual aids.

Phil does his research. He relies on the Farmer’s Almanac to prepare him for February 2nd.

Phil practices his speech. Actually, he has two presentations prepared, and has been practicing them for centuries. He knows his material inside and out.

Punxsutawney Phil is fully prepared to step out of his hole and face his audience. So without further delay, I present to you, Orator Extraordinaire, and all around good guy . . .

Mr. Ground Hog

Punxsutawney Phil,


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