Was The President Presidential?

By: Monica Murphy Senior Coaching Partner

As Speech Communication Coaches, we are regularly sought out for our communication critique. We focus on the delivery style and techniques by speakers.

The big question asked of us yesterday was , “Was Obama Presidential in his delivery of the State of the Union?”

So what is Presidential? It is subjective for certain, however, as Coaches we know that listeners describe a speaker as Presidential in their style by using the following criteria.

1.Confident posture and body language –
The President used hand gestures for impact and emphasis. His movements were slow and purposeful.

2. Use of facial expression to convey emotion-
We saw a serious determined face when talking about serious issues and a smile when using humor, for example, his reference to “crying over spilled milk”

3. Language that is inclusive-
Using words including American, Patriotic, We and Our. He did this well.

4. Voice tone that is strong and varied- Mr. Obama did this each time he said,“Put that in a Bill and I will sign it!”

5. Sentences that are short and easy to digest- Mr. Obama did this , however, particularly at the beginning of the speech, he tended to talk in phrases, which sounded too rehearsed and non – passionate. As the speech went along, he changed from approximately 5- 7 words per phrase to about 10-12 words per phrase. It was still a bit too rehearsed sounding and tended to lack the passion which the words expressed.

Obama’s combination of this criteria conveyed a decisive, deliberate and determined message. Going forward , if President Obama wants to be defined as Presidential, he must maintain a consistency in these areas.

We will be watching closely as the campaign unfolds and will comment in similar fashion.

Monica Murphy is a senior coaching partner with THE SPEECH IMPROVEMENT COMPANY INC. As a specialist in communication, she is well known in senior leadership circles. Monica has helped many strengthen their communication. Regular clients such as Bain Capitol and Ropes and Gray have enjoyed her expertise. More may be learned about Monica by clicking here

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