President Obama spoke to a crowd of about 13,000 at Colorado State University one Tuesday afternoon. They had been standing in the hot sun for hours, and were eager to hear the President's message. I had seen him speak when he was a candidate, and remember thinking what a great speaker he was back then. I wanted to listen to his speech differently this time, and bring back some tips for my community.
No matter what your political beliefs, we can all learn some things from seeing him speak live. Here are some of the things the President did that made his speech powerful, impactful, and right on target. They are things we all can do.
He targeted his message for his audience.
He knew there would be a large number of students in the audience. He targeted much of his speech to them. He said, "For the first time in many of your lives, you'll get to pick a president." He emphasized the importance of college affordability, strengthening the economy, and the important role that young people will play in this election.
He created a "Rumble" -a contest between Colorado State University, and Colorado University (CU) in Boulder to see who could register the most voters. He got the audience excited.
He also knew he had thousands of middle class voters from the community, and targeted some of his message specifically to them.
We need to do the same. It's critical to know your audience. Know their struggles, their pain, what they'd pay money to solve. Then target your message to those pain points. Show them how you can be the bridge to take them from their problem to their solution.
He was real. He was authentic. He was likeable.
President Obama seems like the kind of guy you could invite out for a beer or a coffee. He did not hide behind some puffed out chest, "I'm the President" persona. You got the sense he was having a conversation with you.
From his loosened tie and rolled up shirt sleeves to his easy manner, he was engaging. He was relatable. He shared stories from his and Michelle's lives that made him even more real. Stories create emotional connection and memorable moments.
I often talk about not being a "sage on the stage," and about the importance of establishing both credibility and vulnerability. This is what makes you relatable. This is what makes people feel like, "she gets me!" This is what makes people know you, like you and trust you.
Be you. Be real. Be authentic-on stage and off.
He had a point of view.
Whether you agreed with him or not, it was clear where he stood on the issues he focused on. He spoke about such issues as healthcare reform, concern for the middle class, renewable energy, foreign affairs, education, and strengthening the economy. His point of view was clear.
So many speakers wimp out. They are "just like everyone else" on their topic. They do not take a stand. They do not have a point of view. They're not provocative. They have a "middle of the road message" because they want to appeal to "everyone." And they're not very successful.
To be memorable, you need to craft a message that is crystal clear, and has your own 'sumptin' sumptin '", your own unique approach, your own point of view on your topic.
He had a call to action.
It was clear what he wanted this audience to do. Register to vote if they were not registered. Vote. Volunteer on his campaign, and help get the word out.
We need to do the same. You should know what your call to action is before you ever put your pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. What do you want the audience to do? Buy your program, sign up for a strategy session, be on your list? Then structure your speech to seamlessly take them into that course of action.