5 Public Speaking Techniques that We Can Learn from Obama

  • 5 Public Speaking Techniques that We Can Learn from Obama

    5 Public Speaking Techniques that We Can Learn from Obama

    President Obama has become one of the best public speakers of our time.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that his skills as a public speaker, above all others, made him President of the United States and one of the most powerful men in the world.

    But how does he do it?


    Below are 5 public speaking tips we can borrow from Obama —

    1.  Stories.

    Almost all his speeches include a story, and often at the beginning. Stories are extremely powerful tools, as a well-told story makes us understand the situation, feel the pain, and even share the hope of the lead character.  In 2004 at the democratic convention, Obama told the story of his parents, of America and his ‘audacity to hope’.  At the time, he was a complete unknown, but by the end of his speech, he had created a following.  (Obama’s speech)

    When he was fighting the immigration issue, he told the story of an American immigrant, with her by his side.

    When he fights for gun control, he used recent stories of gun violence.

    A story creates emotions.  It makes us laugh and cry.  It motivates us to act.  A story is memorable.

    TECHNIQUE 1:  Use stories.


    2.  He uses eye contact, like he’s talking to each individual.

    Obama looks straight at us, as if he wants to talk to each one of us, even through the TV screen.  He doesn’t yell.  He doesn’t talk down to us in a condescending way.  He uses eye contact, like he’s talking to an individual who he respects.

    This is both, a fantastic tip for connecting to the audience AND a great way to reduce stage fright.  Look at an individual in the audience and pretend you’re talking to just that person, like he or she is your best friend.  You can change from one person to another person after a sentence or two.

    TECHNIQUE 2:  Speak as if you’re talking to your best friend.


    3.  He uses his voice.

    He changes his tone, volume and speed in a natural way.  He pauses to make a point.  When people are good at it, it seems natural, but most people need to practice to develop this skill.

    TECHNIQUE 3:  Vary your voice in a natural way.


    4.  He shows us that he’s human.

    He shares his personal situation, he talks of his past and his family with an authenticity that feels genuine.  We has passion, emotions and humor that spreads through his face and his body language.  He seems like a real person … human.

    He pulls his story into the political message, into the American ideology.  He uses common language and connects to the people.

    He seems to take this further with empathy, even crying on occasion.  He becomes instantly believable and likeable.

    TECHNIQUE 4:  Show that your are a real person.


    5.  He appears presidential.

    While showing emotions, he stays calm, rational and dignified.  He doesn’t say horrible things to woman reporters or his opponent’s wife, like Donald Trump.  He doesn’t constantly scream, like Hilary Clinton.  He simply tells his story, makes his point and concludes his argument rationally, CALMLY and with dignity.

    TECHNIQUE 5:  Be dignified.


    Kimberly VanLandingham is a presentation trainer, public speaking coach, keynote speaker and international business consultant. Presentation Training Switzerland is a division of European Market Link Sàrl, a Swiss Limited Company, providing presentation training to technical, business, sales and international presenters.

    Presentation Training Switzerland offers workshops and private coaching with practice sessions including video feedback.  Visit us at www.PresentationTrainingSwitzerland.ch .

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