The speaking trait the Barack Obama and John Kennedy share

 In Learning from Luminaries, Politicians

When John Fitzgerald Kennedy would speak, he was able to make such a deep personal connection to his audience, that people were immediately drawn to believe what he had said – no matter the words he uttered.

Barack Obama has a similar gift. This gift was on display at his presentation at the University of Queensland on 15 November prior to the start of the G20 summit in Brisbane.

Highlights of Obama’s speaking included (leaving aside the worth of his ideas):

Mastery of the pause and ‘ownership’ of time
– Obama is able to consummately stretch a pause and prolong vowels and consonants to punctuate his lyrical phrase and sentences riffs.
– When he momentarily loses his train of thought he ‘parks’ the audience, calmly regains his focus, and starts speaking again.
– He’s never perceived as rushing or out of control – and always seems to have an extra fraction of a second at his disposal to stop, observe the situation, decide on his next words and then act on that decision.
– Though his words are scripted for him on a teleprompter, he can always make you believe that he’s not reading a text.

Obama delivery was an exemplar of the following principles
– You don’t get marked down for being thoughtful.
– Perceived genuine passion ‘sells’.
– People will believe your certainty. They may not know if an idea is good or not – but they will believe how certain you are that it is a good idea.

Obama is easy to like with his easy wide smile and smooth approachable carriage of his body. The only drawback of the speech was that it lost momentum at times, and it was slightly too long.

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