We’ve been celebrating Black History Month highlighting those who have inspired us at We Are BRAVE. This choice is for many reasons (he’s kinda done a lot of stuff) but we adore his style when it comes to the way he speaks & engages in public. It’s Barack Obama.
Originally an American attorney at law and democratic politician and senator, Barack Obama went on to become the 44th President of the United States holding office from 2009-2017 and the very first African American President.
Once again, we are not making political statements here, that’s something we never get involved in. What we do want to talk about is the public speaking skills that made this POTUS one of the most engaging presidents to ever hold office.
At the very nature of his most high profile job was public speaking, and whilst we know that he will have received coaching and support, he without doubt has a set of natural skills that he uses to inspire and engage his audience to go on his journeys with him.
There are so many choices when it comes to his speaking resume, but we decided to choose his presidential victory speech. It contains almost all of the factors you could wish for when considering how to rally a crowd and leave them knowing that something great is coming and that they need to act. Something that many public speakers wish for as a success measure for their own presentations.
His speech needs to be watched to understand its power, but we’ve selected some of the elements that really stood out for us because of the ways it either engaged, inspired or grew interest and passion from the audience. There are many to choose from!
He starts by congratulating the audience, not himself, on going out and voting, on having the will to change, on letting their votes do the talking and trusting in him to be different. He never once congratulates himself. His passion and sincerity when he does this are masterful.
Within minutes he manages to engage everyone around the USA when he is inclusive in his storytelling. Old, young, black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight…the list goes on. He skilfully is thanking those that are around him and letting you know that you’re a welcome part of his success and team too. He unifies all those people. We are the United States of America.
A skill many speakers struggle with is being humble. Confidence and arrogance run a very close line and he manages to be humble when he talks about those around him, despite just being elected to President of the United States. Instead he used his time to congratulate those around him and those who ran against him mentioning his campaign manager, supporters like Joe Biden, opposition like Senator McCann and Sarah Palin and of course, tugs at the heartstrings when coming back to thank his wife and beautiful daughters.
He also skilfully pays respect to his grandmother who dies just 3 days previously whilst also reminding the people of America that his commitment was to them and the election. Everyone deals with grief and this helps the audience to empathise with him. Evoking empathy, in a presentation, is a rare skill.
He masters the use of his voice, the tone, the eye movements, the hand gestures and ends as he started, talking about the people who voted and supported him, carefully making sure to recognise those that donated $10 and $20 along with those who supported with millions.
He tells them “it’s your victory” and I know that you did it not to win an election, but you did it for me. He has told the audience what he stands for, and now I’m going to stand up for you.
And then, of course, like any good speech, he needs a call to action. What will we do differently? Well in this case it’s all about attitude and for Barack Obama, he simply wants the American public to remember one thing from his election to President. That when it comes to growth, the challenge ahead, any actions and future change there is only one response he wants to hear. “Yes, we can!”
You can watch Barack in action by clicking this link.
Now we can’t guarantee to make you speak like Barack did, but we can help you become an awesome public speaker through our own SPEAK programme so if we can support you get in touch.