“She loved lip gloss”…a quote from Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this week. On the face of it it’s a pretty banal statement. But it’s a line given enormous poignancy when you know it was used to describe Hadith Newton, one of the latest young victims of gun violence in America.
Making things personal, talking about things that matter and relating to his audience is what makes Barack Obama one of the greatest orators of our time. A lot of his effectiveness as a speaker comes from what he says: he talks in plain English and uses a language that resonates with his audience. But, it’s also about how he says it. He turns data and information into compelling stories that come alive for his listeners. He uses his voice tone and his body language to add power, feeling and impact to every word.
Richard Greene, the expert who helped Princess Diana to overcome her fear of public speaking, has analysed Barack Obama’s style. He notes that Obama uses his speeches to tell stories; he concentrates his words into a simple, identifiable message that create images for the audience. He uses his body language to its full potential by standing tall, making eye contact, using gestures and ‘speaking’ with his hands.
By adopting some of the President’s communication techniques we can at least make more effective presentations. And at most? Well, I guess that’s a story waiting to be told.
Preview The Five Secrets of Effective Communication, the training video that features video clips of public speeches by Barack Obama.