Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Obama gets my vote for public speaking

Donna Papacosta’s blog recently points to Heidi Miller’s blog on public speaking. It’s a great blog and I recommend it to anyone teaching public speaking.

I love watching great speakers. In my opinion, one of the best and most charismatic speakers of our time is presidential hopeful Barack Obama. What a pleasure is to watch him. He embodies every quality I can think of that’s needed in a talented public speaker. Beyond his good looks (sorry, I know that sounds sexist, but it helps when the camera likes your face!), Obama is a reflection of our times and delivers a fresh and truly genuine quality of public speaking.

It doesn’t matter what your political views are – just watch and learn. He is skillful at delivering key messages, uses humor eloquently (this is a long video ... but the first minute and a half of this footage is hilarious) and he has an uncanny ability to draw the audience in. He connects almost instantly with his audience. Once he starts to speak, he’s like the Starship Enterprise tractor beam … you get sucked right in. The combination of superb speechwriting and delivery is what makes him outstanding.

Obama is highly intellectual, yet he doesn’t pontificate on the podium or bore us with hyperbole. And every single one of his speeches contains the three most essential ingredients a speaker should try to deliver at the podium: entertainment, information, and moving you to action. If you can’t accomplish any of that through your speech, please sit down and shut up.

For anyone teaching media training or presentation skill training, be sure you get loads of YouTube footage on Obama to study because he’s pure genius.

I realize that this talent alone won’t get him to the White House … but he sure beats what’s in there now!


Donna Papacosta said...

Thanks for the mention, Julie. You're right: Obama is a gifted speaker. He really stands out in the crowd because we see so few orators among politicians and candidates today. I wonder why?

Luke said...

Absolutely agree. It is amazing to watch someone as skilled as Barack work through his audience and his message. A true orator in the classical sense. At least half of how he does what he does has to be born-with-it talent.

That other half got me thinking though, and I decided to blog a bit on the craft of public speaking over at Commpoint.ca Check it out if you want!

Julie, I was at the Talk is Cheap conference yesterday and am following up on your great advice in a few ways! My new born, month old, blog is still evolving and hopefully I can start to join the great conversations out there!

casa said...

Obama smacks of being disingenuous. He is too smooth, too rehearsed!

Julie Rusciolelli said...

Luke, welcome aboard the blog train and thanks for commenting. I will check out your blog too. I agree Obama has a ton of natural talent as a speaker. He could recite the alphabet and get everyone's attention.

And yes, Casa, Obama is super smooth and rehearsed, but doesn't that inspire confidence in a leader?

Thanks for everyone's comments, keep them rolling in.

Jason said...

I agree entirely. My girlfriend showed me Barack doing a speech on a video site a few months back. And I was amazed.

Like you said he may be rehearsed, but that's a good thing, surely? He knows his subject and makes it come across as natural, which is half the battle. Thanks for the post Julie.


Ian Ross said...

Obama certainly has a talent for energizing a crowd. His recent Iowa caucus victory speech was poetry.
However, I think a lot of the credit needs to go to his speechwriters. They really know how to craft a script with stories, key messages and a mountain of soundbites.
No surprise that former John F. Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen has raved about Obama and his crew. They seem to have once again found the right mix of words and charisma.

Heidi Miller said...

Thanks for the link and the mention. I've been studying Obama as well as an intelligent yet relatable public speaker. He has great speech writers, sure, but that charisma and comfort in front of any audience can't be faked.