You CAN Learn To Speak Like President Obama

by drjim on January 19, 2010

President Obama Sure Knows How To Give A Speech

President Obama Sure Knows How To Give A Speech

Who do you think is the greatest communicator of all time? For most of us, we’d pick someone who has lived in the last 100 years because that’s pretty much all that we know. We’ve had some great ones in this time period: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, etc. However, if I had to pick the best communicator out there right now, I believe that President Obama would win. Now the question for you, independent of your political beliefs, is how can you learn to speak more like him…?

Welcome To The World Of Politics

Linda McGurk spends a lot of time studying how politicians like Obama work their magic, and she’s come to some interesting conclusions. The first one is that if you want to have the impact with your speeches that Obama has with his, you are going to have to learn to be sincere.

One of the key take-aways from this guidance is that you really do need to believe in what you are talking about. Audiences get bombarded with so many different messages these days that they have reacted by developing sophisticated fraud detection capabilities. They can detect if you don’t believe the words that you are saying.

Keep in mind that it’s not just what you say when you are up in the front of the room or on the stage that counts. Everything that you’ve done up until that point may be known to the audience and it counts also. If you are known to be an avid hunter and you show up to give a speech on why people should be vegetarians, then you are not going to come across as being sincere.

Do You Care, I Mean REALLY Care?

How much passion do you have inside of you? Why are you keeping it all bottled up in there? If you want me to listen to you speak about something, you had better be passionate about the topic.

When you let your emotions out, when you let your audience know that you really do care about what you are talking about, that’s when you can connect with them. It is all too easy to do a great job of researching everything that you need for a speech and then simply delivering a lot of solid facts to your audience. That shows that you care, doesn’t it?

The answer is no. If you open up and explain to me why something is important to you, then I’ll listen. If I can understand how deeply you feel about something then I’ll at least listen to you. I may still not agree with you, but I will at least listen.

How Far Can You See: What’s Your Vision?

When you are giving a speech, you need to be painting a picture of the future for your audience. Once again, if you are just unloading a bunch of facts that you’ve picked up during your research for this speech, then you won’t be able to make a lasting impression.

One of the best examples of a fantastic vision expressed in a speech is John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in which he told the country to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

This is exactly why people come to hear speeches — they are looking to hear a vision laid out for them. This is what makes the good politicians like Obama stand above so many other speakers — they’ve got the vision thing down cold.

It’s All In How You Do It

This all comes back to the basic point: what do you need to do in order to capture some of that politician speaking magic for yourself. There are three things that you can do immediately to make your speeches have more of that Obama impact:

  • Have A Conversation: The more that you are able to work a conversational tone into your speeches, the deeper the connection that you’ll be able to make with your audience. Using fancy words or “talking over their heads” will only serve to increase the distance between you and them. Have a conversation with them and you’ll be able to make your point.
  • Add Some Punctuation: Sure, we generally only think about punctuation when we are writing, but politicians show us that it plays a role in our speeches also. Adding periods, semicolons, and new paragraphs to the way that you deliver your speech will allow your audience to catch up and follow along with your thinking.
  • Pause For Effect: Some of the worst speakers never seem to take a breath when they are speaking. Adding more pauses to your speech is a fantastic way to make it have more of an impact. Pausing allows your audience to laugh, consider a point, or just catch up and ponder what you’ve just said.

What All Of This Means For You

If you really want to learn how to speak like Obama, then run for the office of President. However, if you need to keep your day job, then perhaps simply incorporating these suggestions into your next speech will do the trick.

It turns out that it’s not all that hard to learn to speak like a politician. The overall goal is to connect with your audience using sincerity, passion, and vision. To do this in your next speech, all you have to do is have a conversation with your audience and add some punctuation and pauses.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll get elected to an office by incorporating these speaking techniques, but I can assure you that you’ll win the vote of your next audience.

Do you think that having a vision is all that important or can it be skipped?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So here’s a question for you to ponder: what is more important – the words that you say or how you say them? This is one of the classic questions that gets asked about public speaking. Could you pick up a fantastically written speech and deliver it in a way that would create the same (or better) reaction in the audience that the original presenter got?

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

K8 Peters January 19, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I appreciate your emphasis on how much the voice matters in presentations. I would add to this that the differences between sincerity and being insincere, passion and disinterest, and vision and shortsightedness can all be heard in a voice. That vocal image is more important than we realize. I am looking forward to your next article when you talk about that! Thanks!

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson January 22, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Kate: What? You mean we can’t give a speech in which we try to convince our audience of one thing when we really deep down feel a different way? Bingo. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul; however, I suspect that our voice might be a different way of getting to the same place…

Reply

Brad Lenart April 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I Have been a singer all my life and yes I can tell you that the voice is also a window or (vehicle) to the soul. : )

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson April 22, 2011 at 10:00 am

Brad: Well said!

Reply

Lori November 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

You have to be kidding. The worse president in the history of our nation. He has made all of us more divisive & racist than any other politician in the world. He wants to erase the middle class. I hope he gets water-boarded. I hope & pray that nothing good ever happens to him in his life. He is a bobble-head. He is no one who impresses any one with true values & knowledge. Wag the dog, it finally came true. But we don’t have to put up with the political bullhit being shoved down our throats. He is promoting a civil war. So much hatred.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson November 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Lori: Ok, so that’s how you feel politically. Now put that aside and address the main point of this article: President Obama does an excellent job of giving speeches. As aspiring speakers, there is a great deal that we can learn from him in terms of technique and style. Please note that not everyone liked Ronald Reagan; however, everyone agreed that he truly was “the great communicator”.

Reply

Olota April 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

An insightfull write up.

Thank you

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: