Who I Admire as a Public Speaker…
This article is written for UC Berkeley’s IEOR 171: Technology Firm Leadership (Fall 2020) class.
A person that I admire as a public speaker is Barack Obama. Former President Obama is a great and charismatic speaker, and many are drawn to his speeches. Not only are people interested in what he has to say, but how he says it. In every situation, Mr. Obama has a distinctive way he delivers his speeches that is just so calming, captivating, and reassuring. Politics aside, I believe Mr. Obama is a wonderful public speaker that everyone can learn from to improve their own public speaking skills.
A specific trait that everyone notices in Mr. Obama’s speeches is his pacing. Off the bat, he is a slow speaker. He never rushes what he has to say and gives the audience the time to actually take a moment to think about what he is saying. This gives his words some weight and as a result, people are willing to listen. Also, his slow yet natural speaking style gives his speeches a distinctive melody to them that sometimes makes his speeches soothing and calming to listen to.
Another great characteristic of Mr. Obama’s speeches is that they seem personable. I think this comes from the fact that Mr. Obama knows who his audience is and speaks in a manner that is understandable to all. He uses diction that is varied but simple to comprehend and masterfully paints a picture of his more exhaustive speeches with vivid details. These details make the audience care about what he has to say because the pictures he is usually painting are of average citizens and their stories. This assures many listeners that he understands his people. At the end of the day, Mr. Obama is a great storyteller and can captivate his audience to listen to his messages
Finally, another great quality of his speaking style is his adaptability. Mr. Obama is great at speaking in different environments. Whether it be talking at a comedic talk show to addressing a tragic event, he knows how to shift his tone. He can be funny and entertaining as well as be serious. Regardless of the situation (comedic, friendly, emotional, etc.), he always exuberates a well-disciplined and Presidential-like demeanor when he is speaking. This makes him a very charismatic leader who can connect with different types of people but also while exemplifying his leadership qualities.
To me, I am drawn to public speakers who are captivating and engaging. I also value the delivery of a speech just as much as the message. Above all, I want a public speaker who can really connect with me and deliver a message or story as if they are personally talking to me. I strongly believe former President Obama had all of these qualities and more and is truly what makes him an iconic public speaker.
Here’s are a couple of clips from YouTube that highlight some of his most his memorable speeches as well as some of the things I mentioned in this article: