State of the You-nion: Habla Obama

Like too many young Americans, last Wednesday was the first time I ever sat through the entire State of the Union. I’d like to say that my spine was upright the entire time, eyeballs glued to that beautiful man’s forehead wrinkles, contemplating the deeper meaning of his every sil-lahbul…

But it wasn’t.
I’m Gen-Y.
If it ain’t sex or someone else’s embarrassment, it’s hard to hold the attention of the best of us for more than 30 minutes (that’s trying — 30 seconds for when we’re on braindead/Facebook mode).

However, I did take notes on something that’s immediately relevant to young profeshes like us: Speaking skills a la Obama.
It’s undeniable that every pinch, pause and pronunciation the man does is planned to a tee. I studied Barawk like a hawk & picked out more than a few of his key tricks.

Walk with me.

So I says to Mabel, I says...


  • Speak like an essay reads: Pause between every rant. Obamz went with approximately 1.5-mississippi.
  • Warble: Low voice when talking about feelings or being more conversational; Loud voice when approaching your point. Wiggle between the two.


(What I call your organization, plus the little things that sparkle in-between)
  • Don’t answer that: Ask rhetorical questions, followed by a 0.5-mississippi pause. Obamexample: “You know what else is great? …(meaningful silence. Smug smile.)”
  • You’re done with the SATs: Keep the vocab simple. The biggest word Obama used? Aspirations. Any 10 year old reading a Hallmark card can understand that. Keep your -tions to a minimum for maximum impact.
  • Parrot Preach: Repeat phrases to drive points home, but keep it to 1-2 syllables. Obamexample: “We cut taxes on (dogs). We cut taxes on (lamp). We cut taxes on (Snookie).”
  • Know when to list: Barox ranted when rebutting naysayers, then ended with a polite demand. Sassy. Obamexample: “If anybody has a better suggestion that covers (List of 7-8 things, went on for a good minute)… LET ME KNOW. LET. ME. KNOW.”


  • Tennis Match: Barox looked a little like he was watching Wimbledon, and it worked. Make a point to one side, shift focus. Make a point, shift focus. Give someone a lil’ stare while you’re there.
  • Unjazzed Hands: He kept his hands folded on the podium and didn’t flail, like I tend to do. It says: “I’m confident. I’m comfortable. I know you’re listening and you’ll wait while I make all the points I need.”
  • Be Italian: When he did move, it was to emphasize a point; he’d pinch his fingers, Soprano-style, or reach out with his palm down, hand outstretched. But his hands never lifted past his shoulders, unless motioning the audience to do something. Like to interrupt one of their 60-minute ovations.
  • Goooaaal: When suggesting a solution, he’d literally point his fingers up in little goal posts. Humans are largely visual creatures, and what he’s doing is simply spelling it out.


Good speakers are like celebrity impersonators on Hollywood Blvd:

You laugh at the bad ones and you’re sort of scared of the good ones.

Here’s to your next fake-MJ-rific presentation.

Any suggestions? Comment, per favore!

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