Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Emulate the Oratory Fineness of Barack Obama

Public speaking is one of the most terrifying prospects in the world for many people, ranking right up there with death (higher than death in some cases). This fear is natural and almost universal, even with seasoned public speakers. Regardless of the amount of fear that fills you at the prospect of stepping behind that lectern, you can still be an effective public speaker if you know the key elements. Wouldn’t you like to have the ability to emulate the oratory fineness of Barack Obama. How does he have such a cool and easy going way about him when he is addressing the Nation? These steps are simple and apply to every public speaking situation you could find yourself in and include:

Preparation – One of the most effective ways to banish that overwhelming fear is to prepare for your speech adequately. This implies many things, including knowing your material, knowing your audience, knowing the venue and rehearsing your speech prior to the engagement. With preparation comes familiarity, familiarity with your material, with each point on your outline. President Obama is a master at familiarity. It also helps you understand to whom you will be speaking – this is an invaluable tool to help you tailor your speech to meet the needs of specific audiences. In addition, knowing the venue helps you feel more comfortable during the engagement. Finally, know your topic – obviously, you were chosen for a reason; let your speech reflect that reason. Adequate preparation is incredibly important; however, over-preparing can be detrimental. Only put enough thought and preparation into it as you require. Do not over analyze the situation, which can lead to even more stress.

Presentation – Your presentation of the material is also a key point to address. With the right preparation, your material should be sufficient, but how you present that material is vitally important. The wrong presentation can leave your audience wanting, leave them unengaged and lackadaisical. A lackluster performance moves no one – whether you are motivating your audience, informing them about new products or services, sharing testimonials or anything else, the right presentation is essential. So what is the right presentation method? While it will vary with each setting, open body language is integral to all situations.

Body Language - Open body language conveys confidence, knowledge and expertise – President Obama is a master at open body language. No matter whom he is speaking to, he has a sense of openness and kindness, but can also show firmness in his stance on important subject matter. Presentation can set your audience at ease and tell them subconsciously that you are an expert, that you are comfortable with your knowledge and that you have important things to impart to them.

Voice – Your speaking voice is just as important as your body language. If your voice is pitched too low, or you speak to loudly, you can lose your audience. Once more, while the tone of voice and style of speaking will change a bit with each setting, it is important that you use a conversational tone and hit the right volume level. You should speak loud enough that everyone can hear you, but not so loudly that you thunder in their ears. Your tone should convey confidence and strength, but should also be conversational, casual and effective.

Obviously, your choice of wording will vary with each engagement; your choice of terminology should fit the industry you are addressing. However, your tone of voice and volume should impart the same things as your body language. The perfect example is how conversational and friendly President Obama is during casual television interviews with the First Lady compared to his level of confidence and firmness when presenting his opinion on his stimulus package.

When you combine these three disparate elements into a seamless whole, you'll find yourself much more comfortable with the spectacle of public speaking. Does this mean that those butterflies will dissolve, never to return? No, even the most seasoned public speaker still feels nervous before taking the stage. Even President Obama has a bit of stage fright, we just don’t see it. The fear of the unknown will always lurk deep within your psyche, but with the right preparation, body language and voice control, you will feel much more comfortable. In short, with just a bit of forethought, you can become an effective public speaker and have the ability to emulate the oratory fineness that the President possesses.


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