(Originally published in Speaker’s Digest in February 2011)

As states across our country contend with left vs. right challenges over setting policy and balancing budgets, we’ve been wondering this: Which leaders will emerge as the most credible and authentic during this state-by-state debate?

Our opinion? One of the more effective voices will be New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie, who impresses us as a presenter expressing his ideas with clarity and confidence. We at Speaker’s Digest aren’t taking sides here, but we don’t have to agree or disagree with the message to recognize the impact of a great speaker willing to stand up for what he or she believes.

Christie comes across as a regular guy–a storyteller that people can relate to. We watched a speech called “It’s Time to Do the Big Things” that he recently delivered to the American Enterprise Institute, a self-described nonpartisan, conservative think tank. If you’re interested in seeing why we’re writing about him, click here. You can view the whole one-hour speech at the AEI, complete with Q&A, or scroll down on that page for shorter clips.

Watch Christie speak and you’ll see many qualities of a top-notch presenter. He uses great eye contact, gestures, short sentences, long pauses, and widely varied cadences and speeds to convey the conviction of his ideas. He’s funny, honest, and direct, and uses facial expression, stories and examples to convey the depth of his convictions.

He used humor to make a point about how he planned to govern, sharing that if the New Jersey Legislature shuts down the government, he was going to go to the Governor’s Mansion, open a beer, order a pizza and watch the Mets game. “Look at me,” he said, acknowledging his less-than-athletic physique. “I’m not sleeping on a cot.” (His predecessor, Governor Corzine, famously showed media members a cot he used in his executive office several years ago during such a shutdown.)

One thing you’ll notice is how Governor Christie goes beyond simply using our Fundamentals of Public Speaking to make an impression–he combines them. For example, to piercing eye contact he adds long, deliberate pauses to let his audiences know that he is serious about his message. He knows his ideas aren’t always going to be popular with his audiences, but by combining two Fundamentals, he conveys that he trusts his voice and means business that much more effectively. (Read “Fundamentals: The Advanced Course” from our January 2007 issue of the Digest.)

Christie also demonstrates that when you know your material, and believe in your message, you really don’t need substantial notes. We watched him for over an hour, and barely saw him look down. He doesn’t just tell us his ideas; he brings them to life with conviction and personality. We are impressed!

Now can he SELL IT like Bruce Springsteen, our number one favorite New Jersey native?? That remains to be seen!