Speech Tip: Simple Power: Senator Barack Obama’s Speech at 2004 DNC Convention was effective. The question is why and what can be learned for use in our speeches. As I’ve often been quoted, speeches are theater. So is was with this one.
Obama delivered some of the most impactful words in a campaign. He seemed to come out of nowhere, but spoke as if he’d been doing it all his life. His candidate, Senator John Kerry, lost his bid for the presidency, but Obama was now on the nation’s radar. He delivered the speech with a kind of power and confidence we hadn’t seen since the years of Ronald Reagan.
The speech explains his life, which was in many ways the American Dream. He segues how his dream is like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. He quotes the Declaration of Independence, which is higher still, which itself refers to “the Creator.”
His purpose for the night: Support Kerry. While Kerry failed to win against President Bush, Obama was on his way. Not enough voters believed he had what it took to make the changes they wanted. They did, as we saw in 2008, enthusiastically believed in Obama’s themes of hope.
The lesson: Consider a big message. Invoke those greater than yourself. Tell a true and relevant story. Deliver with power.
Watch and read Obama’s speech.