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Home » Business Presentation Skills Training, Executive Training, Leadership and Communication Tips, Public Speaking Workshops, Uncategorized

Obama’s School Speech: SpeakersTrainingCamp Analysis

On the first day of school President Obama’s speech was televised to school children all over the country. Here is my analysis of his speech. As in all of my coaching, I strive for comments that are 50% positive and 50% constructive suggestions for change. I summarize with the top-two priorities:

Here’s what I liked:
1.Outstanding use of stories and examples to make his points: getting up at 4:30 am to work with his mom on school projects; missed having a father; Michelle Obama came from a simple family but went on to college. He gave 3 examples of students who surpassed the odds of poverty, brain cancer, and foster homes; and highlighted the struggles and successes of JK Rowling and Michael Jordan.
2. He related to the students: talked about feeling nervous and sad that summer is over. He mentioned the distractions of tv and the x-box.
3. The setting was appropriate: a high school in Virginia
4. He had great one-liners: “You cannot drop out of school and into a good job.” “The future of America depends on you.””If you quit on school you quit on your country.” “Where you are doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up.””Let your failures teach you.”
5. I liked the “responsibility” theme.

Here are things I would change:

1. Shorten the speech to 10 minutes.
2. Create a stronger close using the “responsibility” theme.
3. Warm up the tone. It was too speechy, too campaign-like. The tone should be friendlier with more smiling, a softer voice sometimes, more caring and fatherly at times. It would have been more personable if he had come out from behind the lectern and walked around the stage a bit.
4. What one sentence do I remember from this speech? What will I remember forever? I don’t know…. he needed a single strong message: “Here’s what I want you to remember this year……..”
5. Use stronger organization with a 1-2-3 format. It would be easier for kids to remember.

The top 2 priorities for improvement: improve the organization centered around the theme, and warm up the tone.

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