The Oratorical Prowess of Barack Obama

Guest post by Zander Smith

A good politician gives lots of speeches. A great politician has the oratory skill to use his speeches to motivate, inspire, and convince people to follow him. The recent American presidential race showed the world the importance of giving a good speech, the importance of having great oratorical prowess. Barack Obama a black motivational speaker inspired millions of Americans to follow him to the White House during the course of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Most Americans have never met Barack Obama and they never will. They do feel connected to him because of the power of his pre-election speeches. On the campaign trail Obama used style to give meaning and believability to his words. This often ignored trait of great orators made Americans feel as if they knew Barack Obama personally and they believed what he had to say.

Obama is an expert at using rhythm and cadence during his speeches to involve his audience. Frequent pauses during his speeches allow the audience to participate by cheering, clapping, and chanting. It also gives listeners the chance to actually absorb what he is saying. Experts note three advantages to using well placed pauses during a speech.

-A pause will allow the speaker to take a breath and gives the audience a chance to respond

-A pause during which the audience responds lets people feel connected to the speaker – they are participating in what he has to say

-A pause which lets the audience respond shows the speakers generosity – he allows others to speak and does not take all the time for himself

Delivering a good speech is very difficult task. Bob Proctor, a great orator, breaks a speech down into 3 simple parts. First, tell the audience what the speech is about by introducing your material. Next, give the audience the meat of your material. Third, review what you have said in steps 1 and 2. The second step of any great speech is practice. A great orator will know his stuff. Study all of your information. The better acquainted you are with your material the better you will feel when sharing it with your audience.

Barack Obama’s campaign trail speeches, and his presidential speeches, are excellent examples of the above three advantages. Instead of following the modern, just the facts style of many of today’s orators Obama looked to the great speakers of the past for inspiration. Barack Obama may be a “new” style candidate but he has taken full advantage of “old school” techniques when speaking in public.

Zander Smith, Site Representative Great Black Speakers Member of Great speaker motivational society


DG in the news

Hi All

The recent Toastmasters Induction Dinner has made it into the Cape Town local papers. Cape Community Newspapers ran an article which was syndicated to most of the local community newspapers.

Correction: I am the second youngest District Governor. Howard Steinberg beat me in 1980.

You can read the article below.

Craig Induction Dinner

I hope that it brings some new members in.

Barak Obama’s slides – how they could have looked

In my last post, I spoke about the very poor slides from a recent presentation by by Barack Obama. – the so-called "Yes we Can" speech. Firstly an apology- the slides were not created by Obama, but were created by a blogger to demonstrate how poor slides can ruin a presentation. Sorry for the miscommunication.

However, they are a great example of poor slides, so I have dissected them and shown what could have been done.

The main problems with the slides is that there is far too much text, and there is such missed opportunity for great visuals (I have left the original slides in the bottom left for reference).

I removed the agenda and second hope slide – they were redundant.

Yes we can! – simple and patriotic

Thank you – personally I don’t think that you need this slide, but if you have to have it, show visual of what/who you are thanking (I just stuck the picture of the family in to illustrate).

Time for change – representing the diverse culture of American people.

Change isn’t easy – difficult to break out of the mold – Lego people.

What we’re up against – a brick wall.

What I see – the title does not interest me. Obama is actually speaking about what he sees in his country, so I have renamed it to My country. The picture is a vivid picture of inner-city buildings with fences and graffiti.

We cannot loose hope – picture of patriotic child representing hope for the future.

What I know – also boring title. Obama is speaking about we can achieve, so I called it We can. I am not too sure about the picture of the children, perhaps a bit too cuddly. It also makes a good climatic transition into the last slide, which is…

Yes We can – some stars and strips.

Which slide deck do you prefer?

How NOT to use PowerPoint

Barack Obama?s "Yes We Can" speech injustice in PowerPoint

This is a mock-up of a slide deck from Barack Obama – "Yes we Can" speech. It was not created by Obama, but were created by a blogger to demonstrate how poor slides can ruin a presentation.

Let's go through it slide by slide.

All slides: The template is boring. It is one of the default templates that is installed with PowerPoint 2003. The lime green does not work.

Agenda: You are giving a speech, not running a day long seminar – you don't need an agenda slide.

Thank you: Thanking people is great (and important), but do you need a slide for it?

Sides 4-10: Such great opportunity to use visuals lost (change, time, diversity, status-quo, challenges, hope etc)

Slide 6: Can the people in the back row read the text? They will spend their time trying to read the slide, and miss what you are saying.

Slide 9: At last, some pictures, but clipart? How about some high-quality stock-photos illustrating your point?

Slide 11: The pot of gold is just cheezy.

What else could have been changed?