Do you remember a particular lesson or a day at school that changed your life for the better – and inspired you to pursue a passion?

I do.

It was the day I first heard about the Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” and the power of words to motivate people into action.

I reckon that’s why I’m such a big fan of the communication skills of Barack Obama and Bono  – and wanting to help good causes.

I later found out the impact MLK had in inspiring Bono – and I can see how Bono uses many MLK speaking techniques.

Now I know that Bono and Obama are not the same as MLK – but I can see how both Obama and Bono borrow from MLK’s communication style. I also know that Bono, MLK, and Obama have many people who do not like their style or what they stand for. Having said that ‘though – I am an unashamed, big fan of the communication techniques (and the underlying messages) of all three.

I’ll be honest about my attitude towards Bono – it has changed dramatically  over the years from like to dislike and back to a mature respect and admiration  – even though  some friends and work colleagues tease me for my devoted study (Bonology) of his communication skills and my 80s optimism  in wanting to share Bono’s communication techniques  pro bono (for good/for free).

I was a fan of his music – then I thought he got “too preachy” – then I became a massive fan again of his activism and using his celebrity to help the causes he supports.

What helped make me a big fan again was when I saw his Acceptance speech at the NAACP Awards. His speech and his delivery reminded me so much of how I was moved the first time I heard MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech. In the acceptance speech Bono shares how MLK inspired him.

I reckon Bono has a poet’s ear, a preacher’s tongue, and a rhino’s skin. He takes the criticism. He knows with attention  comes criticism – and he doesn’t seem to care about the insults and jokes about him.

Maybe he does feel the pain and sting of the barbs – but he just keeps on putting his head above the parapet!

NAACP aceptance speech

Inspired by Bono’s example, I started to use my communication and presentation coaching skills to share Bono’s techniques (Pro Bono – for free) to help good causes – and especially to teach high school students how they can make a difference through the power of words. I also want to let school students know about Bono – the way my teachers “got me interested” in MLK!


It’s interesting to note that while MLK and Bono are well known to  Boomers and Generations X and Y –  many younger students often don’t know and don’t care much about MLK or Bono.

To many high school kids, Bono is just an another “old man” and MLK is so “last century”.

U2 music may be on high rotation in the music preferences of people in their 40s and 50s (and maybe 30s) – but for teenagers, U2 and Bono are often barely visible.

My two kids know lots about Bono (and Obama) because they are so used to dad wearing his many U2 tour t-shirts and talking to them about Bono – and always playing U2 music! They know the lyrics! I tease my son Orlando that I almost called him Bono Biancotti!

Slide18 copy

I take great PRIDE is helping students care about  and learn about Bono and MLK and how people from backgrounds without privilege or power CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE through the power of their words.

I use all my corporate training and facilitating skills to try to make Bono relevant to the lives of younger audiences – and based on the feedback – it seems to be working! (Phew!)


It was amusing when one of the students gave a little speech to thank me for teaching them:

“Thanks for teaching us so much about Bongo!

If you haven’t already seen it – here’s a link to “Bongo’s” NAACP acceptance speech. Even if you have seen it – it’s worth watching again.

YOU’ll see what I mean about his rousing words and delivery style:

Many of my friends are massive Bono fans. They know more than I do about is music. I have a big gap in my music knowledge from when I drifted away from U2.

My expertise is as a Bonologist – who avidly studies his speaking techniques and the videos and the  transcripts of his speeches

Two of his most recent big speaking events are:

1. his recent TED 2013 appearance (last week)

2. his longer address t0 Georgetown University last year

(Bono uses many of the good lines and themes from his Georgetown University speech for his more condensed TED talk)

The video is not yet released for his TED talk – but here’s a link to the TED blog for further info.


Here’s my analysis of how other speakers can borrow from Bono’s techniques from the TED talk:


Here’s a link to his Georgetown University speech:

Bono is also a master at getting attention for causes. It could be that he was just having fun with his impersonation of Bill Clinton:

I think he is more deliberate than that. I think he planned to do that deliberately to get the attention or a broader audience through the novelty and entertainment value of his impersonation:

He effectively hooked the attention of the US Today show and its broader, more mainstream audience:



If you or a good cause you support could use some pro bono help in how to use Bono’s techniques please feel free to contact me.


Also, if you know a high school that could benefit from a session on Bono’s use of words – please let me know. I have to fit my pro bono work in with my “paid” corporate consulting work.

I’m based in Brisbane, Australia – and I often travel for work to Sydney and Singapore.

There’s also the potential to travel to other parts of Asia-Pac and the US for my work too.

So What is Pro Bono Bono?

In a nutshell:

1. A dedicated Bono/U2 fan who loves to help organisations with pro bono (for good/for free)

2. Communication coaching  for good causes combines professional skills with passions

Communication Coaching + Pro bono helping good causes + Bono’s inspiration and example = Pro Bono Bono

You’ll learn how to improve the way you Present and Persuade by using communication techniques effectively used by Bono.

One thought on “How High School students love to learn about “Bongo” (Bono)

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