By Yousef Abu Ghaidah
Love him or hate him, I think we can all agree that President Obama served an unforgettable term as the leader of the free world. Let’s not get carried away though, this isn’t about politics. This is about how President Obama gave the most inspirational speeches of our time.
How to Give an Inspirational Speech
Obama has a way to tie society’s influences with the messages he tends to communicate. The way he crafts his messages is impeccable, and I’m kind of surprised that no public speaking experts caught on to his techniques (at least, not enough to talk about them).
Here’s the thing, Obama didn’t just stick to the facts. He knew that he had to practice empathy to get his message out there. Furthermore, he knew he had to find a way to connect with the American people.
So, how did he do it?
He tapped into the American public’s emotions.
By tying the emotional needs of the public to his formal addresses, Obama set the grounds to make his audience relate to him on a personal level. Keep in mind, I said “personal” and not “presidential.” When he took the stage, he didn’t want the American people to look at him like he’s above-all-else. He wanted to establish equal ground between him and the person he’s addressing his message to.
By making himself appear as an equal, he enabled the American public not just to listen to what he has to say, but to convince themselves that what he is saying is agreeable, in every sense of the word.
The late American poet Maya Angelou said it best:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Obama’s Awesome Public Speaking Techniques in Action
On June 15, 2008, President Obama dropped a stellar quote that showed just how inspirational his speeches are.
“Life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children – all of our children – a better world. Even if it’s difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime.”
The first thing to notice here is how the topic concerns children. Yet, he never talked about his children. He talked about “our” children. He constantly used pronouns like “your” and “our”, and never said “my” once. He took the focus of attention away from him and shined it on his audience.
He then discussed the greater responsibility of parenthood; how life is only as good as how our children see it:
- “Even when it’s difficult” – this expresses emotional stress and sadness; an emotion people are all too familiar with.
- “Even when the work seems great” – this expresses happiness and passion; again, an emotion people are familiar with.
- “Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime” – this expresses sorrow and pain; one more time, an emotion people are all familiar with.
He kept hitting those raw emotional triggers repeatedly, just to remind the American people to look at their children like they’re the most valuable beings in the world (which, of course, they are).
Inspirational Speeches are Based on Emotion
A good speaker will focus on coherence and clarity to get the message across. A great speaker will take those factors to the next level and stir them into the emotion melting pot. By following Obama’s techniques, you have a good chance to rock your next presentation, speech, or even public address (if you’re running for office one day). So get to it.
Yousef “Yoyo” Abu Ghaidah is a PowerPoint ninja who founded Slide Cow, a learning platform for all things PowerPoint, presentations and public speaking.
When he’s not designing slides or giving presentations, he’s on another coffee run.
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