I’m constantly looking for live examples of great public speaking and presentation skills, and of late, you need look no further than the July 6 press conference from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Regardless of where you align with him politically, his presentation skills during his COVID-19 press conferences are first rate, and this most recent one is his best yet. Let’s go through the principles of a great presentation and grade the Governor:


Presentations and speeches must have a goal. Indeed, how else can you decide what goes in (and not in) your presentation unless you have a clear goal of what you want to accomplish.  Based on the critical public health issue of COVID-19, it’s pretty safe to say when you review the presentation in its entirety, that the Governor sought to both INFORM the public of the current state of the state, and second, to PERSUADE viewers to take appropriate actions to continue limiting the spread.

Grade: A


Introduction: Nothing particularly theatrical or gripping here, but that said, he lead with the bottom line statistic: # of deaths due to COVID-19, which were down significantly.  A key rule to a good presentation is open with something compelling, that dials in the audience quickly. Data can be a powerful opener when it’s significant and resonates with the audience. Cuomo played his lead statistic card, and got the job done.

Grade B+


Core Content: Since the onset of COVID-19, Cuomo’s press conferences has been using the  “Where we are, where we are trending, and the behaviors required to achieve the goals”, format. Seems simple enough, but core content is where presentations focused around complex issues, can get unbearably cloudy and incoherent, especially for non-technical audiences. Cuomo does a masterful job of keeping the message focused and clear:

  1. New York City was one of the most intensive “hot spots” in the world back in March.
  2. New Yorkers adhered to the best practices and as a result are successfully bending the curve downward.
  3. Everyone must continue to be extra vigilant to maintain this substantial progress.

To help make his core content hit home, the governor uses slides to perfection even for a TV audience. Easy-to-read text, with few words (mostly) per slide, clear graphics, and compelling metaphors. (eg: “We’ve conquered the mountain. But, we don’t want to see a mountain range. One mountain was enough.”). He even had a little fun with the famous Yogi Berra line “It’s Deja Vu all over again”.

Grade: A


Summary/Closing: Cuomo brought the entire presentation to a close with strong action and demands that everyone must continue to do their part. Citizens must continue to be vigilant and disciplined with distancing and masks, but leadership is critical as well. Law enforcement officials must enforce the laws! If they get resistance from the COVID – fatigued public, Cuomo encouraged them to pass the buck upward. ” Tell them it’s a state law, not a local one. Blame the Governor!” he explained. Cuomo owned his decision. Finally, he even challenged the POTUS to be clearer and more consistent in his messaging to the public and the world. Indeed, we are all in this together.

Grade A+


And finally, there is his personal delivery of voice, eye contact, humor and all the other human elements that the best speakers use to connect with their audience. Cuomo’s vocal pace and pauses are excellent and makes sure the key thoughts and messages get the emphasis they merit. Perhaps it’s my New York roots talking here, but Cuomo’s “messaging-during-a-crisis”  is as good as anyone’s.

Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A


It’s important to remember that no single presentation style is the best one for everyone. Getting your personality and authenticity across, along with these strong principles, are the hallmarks of the very best speakers. But a little role modeling can help too. So you might want to give Governor Cuomo a closer look. To see his entire July 6 press conference, CLICK HERE.


The Ganon Group offers communication coaching for executives and employees across all departments: C-Suite Leadership, Sales, Customer Experience, Technical / Product Development, to improve their communication and presentation techniques. We believe everyone can “up” their game when it comes to communicating initiatives and ideas within the organization, outside to new prospects, to existing clients, or to outside media and trade organizations. www.theganongroup.com