Obama Delivers Somber, Yet Uplifting Address

Barack Obama once again used his words and poetic style to inspire, motivate and bring together the nation and world as he gave his inaugural address just minutes ago.  While it lacked repeatable sound-bites, like Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” there was no mistake that it was time all Americans take a role and imitate the dedicated members of the military in a spirit of service.

Positive Things to Glean About Speaking from Obama’s Inaugural Address

1.  It was about the audience.  (My number one rule of writing speeches.)

  • He used the word “I” only 3 times, while using “we” more than 50.

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Another VP Candidate Hits a Home Run with Speech

Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, took the stage Wednesday night and wowed everyone in her audience, including many watching her on TV—like me.   Her speech ranked up there with those of Joe Biden, Fred Thompson and Michele (yes, Michele, not Barack) Obama.

Just as Joe Biden set the stakes high for his “boss,” Barack Obama, to overwhelm the audience with substance and style, Palin has set the stakes high for John McCain to take the crowd on a trip into the future of our country.  I don’t think Obama’s speech lived up to that.  Will McCain’s?

Palin showed strength, warmth, and humor in a wonderfully worded speech. 

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Obama’s Historic Speech Doesn’t Match MLK’s

He was his usual confident, well-spoken, forceful self, but Barack Obama’s speech on tonight did not compare with others he has given before (2004 Democratic Convention), nor was it as memorable as this historic day required.

Barack Obama had the 84,000 people at Invesco Field and millions more watching TV or surfing the web in the palm of his hand.  And although he is a great speaker, he didn’t do anything memorable or repeatable.

The first 15 minutes of Obama’s speech was delivered in the usual political style, a little too strident for my taste.  He went on the attack right off the bat.

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Biden’s Speech Outshines All—Even Bill’s

Whether you like his politics or not, it’s hard to argue that Bill Clinton knows how to give a speech.  While Ronald Reagan has been touted as the Great Communicator, Bill Clinton was his equal on stage and with a microphone.   They’ve met their match!

Joe Biden brought the house down.  In comparison, he even made Bill Clinton seem like an average speaker.

Joe did everything right:
•    Opening that was real—not histrionic.
•    Meaningful stories and quotes from his mother:

“Joey, God sends no cross you cannot bear.”

•    A glimpse into his nightly ride home, thinking about the people whose homes he passed.

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Hillary Clinton Uses Typical Politician Style

If you love Hillary, she gave a great speech and you’d give her an A +. If you really dislike Hillary, she gave a horrible speech and you’d give her an F. If you are an executive speech coach and can approach her dispassionately and ignore the content of her speech, you’d say she was an average politician.

This blog is non-political. It is based on my experiences with speakers from around the world. To keep this an assessment of style—not substance—I look at the overall stage presence, voice quality, variety of vocal pacing and projection, and techniques to make it memorable (such as humor, repetitive phrases, call backs, visuals, analogies, examples, stories.) So here’s my grade for her tonight: C.

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Day 2 Speakers Demonstrate How-NOT-to Speak

After a magnificent example of great speaking last night (see yesterday’s blog about Michelle Obama), the presentations at the afternoon and early evening sessions of the Democratic National Convention leave much to be desired. Most were average at best. A few were a little better than average and had some good techniques I’ll talk about. But there were some ones that did nothing to add to their political cause.

I’ll grade the speakers below, but first here are some hints that you can use in your business presentations:

1. When the crowd is noisy, don’t shout. It won’t help them or you.

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Michelle Obama Shows Us How to Give a Speech

Michelle Obama Speech Expert Grade: A+

WOW! Warmth, brains, beauty, substance, storytelling, repetitive phrasing, good use of Teleprompters. You name it, Michelle Obama displayed it. None of the shouting, trying to get the crowd into a false frenzy, staring at the Prompter….or any of the common mistakes that will be shown over and over at these conventions. HINT: Notice how Michelle used details to make her stories come alive. She told of her dad using 2 canes to walk cross the room to kiss her mom. Can’t you just picture that? It’s the details that make you feel as if you are in the same place, living the experience.

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Speaking to Large Crowds: Lessons Learned by Watching the Political Conventions

Business people can learn a lot about speaking in front of large crowds this week and next. The Democratic and Republican national conventions show the best…and the worst…techniques that speakers use.

As an executive speech coach, I will be analyzing the speeches from the perspective of WHAT BUSINESS PEOPLE CAN APPLY to their own presentations at work.

This is a non-political blog. There will be good and bad examples from each side of the political fence.

My purpose is to point out the mistakes that you won’t want to make when you get up to speak. I’ll also point out some of the techniques that are good to use in the business world.

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Rate the Speaker: Day 1 Dem convention

When the Democratic National Convention began, it got off to a good start–speech wise. In most years, the speakers that go on during the afternoon are usually the weaker ones–while the stars are on in prime time. But the good start was quickly shown to be a tease and the speakers for several hours reverted to speaking styles that tempt you to turn off the TV or walk out of the room.

Here are a few comments on things we can learn. I’ll try to attach the videos of these segments when they become available.

John Hickenlooper Mayor of Denver, Colorado Speech Expert Assessment: Grade: C
Like many people, he started off his speech like a racehorse, speaking quickly.

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