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Public Speaking is a definite skill that many do not magically obtain without any practice or exposure to some type of audience. It often requires good communication skills, energy, and engagement with the audience. Delivering a great oration is like having a conversation with your audience and having sense of clarity. A powerful speech was delivered by Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He gave this keynote speech Tuesday evening on July 27, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. Barack Obama’s speech lasted under 20 minutes, and under those 20 minutes, he spoke meaningful and empowering words to millions of people that left a great first impression on them, later leading to his presidency in the 2008 presidential election.
In this Democratic National Convention, Obama was nominating Senator John Kerry for President and John Edwards for Vice President. So, the sole purpose of his keynote address was to rally the people and convince them to support and vote for John Kerry to be the next president with his reasons.
Barack Obama even managed to introduce himself and tell how America affected him, also gave his views and opinions of the country, and how it can be better all through his remarkable persuasion techniques, use of delivery/ body language, and organization.
First, as I watched the speech, I was taken aback by Senator Obama’s ability to speak well and sound unrehearsed. I could tell that the audience was moved by his speech, judging by the fact that there were several applauses and cheering going on in the middle of his formal speech.
It mostly started when he was discussing the American Dream and what being and living in America meant to him. Obama appealed to the audience as though he can relate to the people and has their best interest. Senator Barack Obama’s speech had a persuasion technique that included at least 1 appeal from each of Aristotle’s 3 artistic proofs; that being pathos, ethos, and logos. A good example of pathos in his speech was when he stated “…My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father (my grandfather) was a cook, a domestic servant to the British …” I feel as though this statement appeals to emotion because he attaches his family’s background to our everyday lives, well to the people. This displays that some people can relate and connect to it emotionally because Obama’s family worked hard to get out of poverty in order to fulfill their dream. His family wanted Barack to acquire higher education and get him into the best schools in the United States, according to his speech.
A good example of ethos during the speech is when Obama John Kerry for president by stating; John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they’ve defined his life…” Obama appeals to credibility by letting the audience know that the Democrat, John Kerry, inherits the qualities necessary and valued in a leader, therefore he would make an outstanding next president. Barack Obama uses even more ethos to build arguments and establish common ground with this audience.
Logos in his speech was presented in a clever way. Barack Obama uses life examples and his testimony that supported his speech and aid clarify points and concepts for his audience. In my opinion, I could understand where he was coming from and his ideas. He made it make sense to me and had logical appeal. One example where I believe was a good logos was when he was providing the audience with reasons why they should vote for senator John Kerry presidency.
Secondly, Barack Obama is famous for his speaking style and/or delivery of the speech, through the use of his body language and facial expressions. All throughout his formal speech, I noticed Obama’s constant gestures as he speaks. He moves his hands and head often whenever he is expressing an idea, hoping to accurately make his point acknowledged. He uses his index finger when pointing out to his audience whenever making a brief point, giving the audience reason to believe that there is a significant idea/point being made. Obama constantly moves his head to make sure he is speaking to everyone in the building, he does not just face one audience. He maintains direct eye contact with his audience, including those watching through television by directly looking towards the camera. This effectively aids him in gaining his audience’s attention throughout the speech. By using his facial expression, he engages with the audience and gives more insight on his emotions and attitude towards what he is saying his message.
Moreover, I want to analyze the organization style that senator Barack Obama used to deliver this speech. I believe he used the causal organization style because he states problems and then a solution. This organization’s choice proves more effective than any other especially since this speech is meant to persuade/convince people to vote for John Kerry and the Democratic party. Obama starts by introducing himself and his rough upbringing, what he believes and stands for, and that he desires a better America after pinpointing most of the country’s issues, and then proving John Kerry becoming president as the solution to America’s issues. He prompts the people that America has a lot of work to do and that we will rise from those issues through John Kerry. However, during this speech, I did not really hear Obama use any transitions or transitioning words that would lead to his next points. At times, I was not sure if he was getting ready to discuss his other main point.
In conclusion, Barack Obama gave an empowering speech that left Americans full of hope. It is safe to say that it probably inspired some people, as much as it inspired me. Since this was a persuasive speech, I believe it was successful because he applied the 3 persuasive strategies, striking delivery, and causal organization method. I was moved by this speech because of his smooth choice of words and appeal to the audience’s emotions. Analyzing Obama’s 2004 DNC keynote address has made me keener to certain elements in public speaking, and I can say that I have learned something from his formal speech. I believe Barack Obama is possibly one of the best public speakers that I know of in politics.
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