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November 7, 2013

Brooks speaks about leadership skills at Toastmasters

DUNCAN — Sen. Corey Brooks may be adept at public speaking. But it’s not often he gets asked to talk about how to be a good senator.

Brooks spoke to members of Toastmasters on Wednesday about just that. He walked through the important items related to being a good leader and doing his job in the Oklahoma Senate.

“What are some skills needed to be in politics?” Brooks said. “In my experience, not much.”

While being in politics may not require many skills, being a good politician does. And the first skill he named was honesty.

As honesty applies to politics, Brooks said it’s important to be honest with constituents and political peers because it helps keep those relationships on a positive note. He said honesty includes three areas: Moral compass, relationship to constituents and relationship with colleagues.

“Washington legislators don’t trust each other,” Brooks said. “In Oklahoma City, it’s the exact opposite.”

The next skill he mentioned was intelligence. He said there are two types of people in the Senate: ideologues and realists. He said idealists spend too much time focusing on more personal items than on the more pressing items.

He said being a senator also takes temperament.

Sure films might show inspirational leaders are abrasive against their opponents. But that doesn’t work in the real world, Brooks said.

“People who can’t control their tempers are the ones people don’t want to mess with,” he said.

Historical familiarity is also important. Knowing what transpired in the past can help leaders better understand how things got to where they are now. That familiarity can also help determine where things are heading.

For the final skill, Brooks said public speaking is essential.

He went further by breaking that skill down. He said public speaking can be improved by having something to say, owning the event, respecting the audience, appearance, giving comforting body language and reading the audience’s body language, context, authority, and having passion for the topic.

He said it’s also important to mind words when speaking.

“Words have meaning; so we have to be careful,” Brooks said. “It can lead to miscommunication.”

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