How to Deliver a Tough Speech

It looks  like we’re in for 4 years of lessons on public speaking from the White House.  President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress last night and once again gave us a lesson on how to give a speech. This one was a tough speech for tough times.  What did he do that made it exceptionally good?

  1. He practiced.  His delivery was better than usual, with lots of vocal variety in the tone of his voice, the volume and the pacing. Even the commentators said they could tell he had practiced his speech.
  2. The speech was written to be spoken. The sentences were short, just like the President talks. It wasn’t filled with flowery, poetic language like his inaugural address. That was not the purpose of this speech. It was to have a tough conversation with us. And it was meant to motivate. The result of the way it was written made it easy to read off a TelePrompTer. (If you’d like more advice on the use of TelePrompTers, go to my previous blog .)
  3. He wasn’t afraid to share his emotions. Too many business speakers hide behind the facts and put on a dispassionate affect. Your audience wants to know you have a human side.
  4. He used many references with scenarios to which we could relate. 

You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope.”

There will be many more examples I will analyze in the years ahead. These are NOT political comments. They are the assessment of the president’s speaking skills and style. And they are lessons that you can put to use in your business presentations.

This entry was posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, Good and Great Speeches, Heck of a Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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