Be as Powerful as the President*

President Obama at podium

In *President Barack Obama’s farewell speech in Chicago, he showed how powerful words can be. For anyone with an upcoming speech or presentation, his farewell address proved to be a master class in oratory, at once down to earth and soaring, practical and aspirational. His cadence, timing, and vocal variation were spot on.

“It is that spirit — it is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us an economic powerhouse. The spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral, the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket, it’s that spirit. A faith in reason and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other democracies.

An order based not just on military power or national affiliations, but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press.”

President Obama even chose a quote that held our attention and reminded us how oratory at its best emotionally moves us through time and space. It was from our first President and Commander-in-Chief George Washington–and while you could hear the dated language from 1776, you could still accept the power of those words.

“In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but ‘from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken… to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth.’

And so we have to preserve this truth with ‘jealous anxiety;’ that we should reject ‘the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties’ that make us one.”

One more time, it’s clear, it’s important to use the right word at the right time.

Read the words. Watch the speech. You can’t help but learn something.

You will find it at WhiteHouse.gov

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