We all need to be strong presenters so that we can be more effective communicators, but public speaking is especially important in our leaders. The connection between leadership and public speaking is undeniable; I think this is why I am so passionate about both. In order to be a strong leader – whether you are a manager, supervisor, teacher, or coordinator – you must be able to communicate your ideas to others effectively.
While I don’t always support his policies, President Barack Obama has proven time and time again that he is a riveting and charismatic public speaker. His strongest delivery tool is his vocal delivery; he has a powerful speaking voice.
However, I was extremely disappointed in our President’s delivery in what should have been one of his finest speeches: announcing the end of the War in Iraq. Watch below:
Now, I understand that his teleprompter was stolen. However, President Obama rarely makes eye contact AT ALL during this speech. He doesn’t need a teleprompter when greeting his audience and saying, “Good afternoon everybody.” While, as a whole, President Obama does well looking both up and down, the central focus isn’t his message – it’s his notes. During the most important announcement at about 1:15, (“The troops are coming home by the end of the year”), President Obama doesn’t maintain that eye contact, so the message seems off.
When you listen to the video without watching it, the speech comes off well. However, if you watch the video without sound, President Obama appears listless, especially after the 2:00 mark.
Emile Jarreau of Toastmasters International says, “Public speaking skills are the sole key to communicating with a bunch of people at the same time. It is very important for a leader to be able to make his opinions heard to the people within his organization as well as the people in the outside world” (Source).
If only this had been a hallmark speech, a dynamic speech… I definitely expected much more from such a tremendous public speaker.