You can learn to be a better presenter

Barack Obama

Barack Obama is well-known for his speaking skills. But it was not always that way. Here are some comments on Barack Obama from his early days in politics:

From Time magazine:

[Obama’s] delivery was stiff and professorial–“more Harvard than Chicago,” said an adviser who had watched Obama put a church audience to sleep.

From Chicago Magazine:

Ted McClelland, who covered Obama’s failed 2000 congressional bid for the Chicago Reader, recalls that back then Obama “was not real comfortable or confident as a stump speaker.” McClelland found him wonkish and aloof. “He was stiff and monotonous, and he spoke like a poli-sci professor-a pedantic lecturer who used lots of deadly boring, neutron bomb language.”

Obama has clearly put in some hard work to achieve his rhetorical brilliance. I strongly believe that any person can become a better speaker. You don’t have to be born with the talent. I’m evidence of that. I was a shy introverted teenager much more interested in horses than anything to do with people. It was through joining Toastmasters in my mid-twenties that I started to develop some skills.  In many areas of endeavour there is a debate on what is most important – innate talent or hard work. Through coaching hundreds of people to become better speakers, I believe that if you have the basic skill of carrying on a conversation with just one other person, you can also become a great speaker. But it does require application and hard work. Obama has come a long way in his speaking ability. And so can you.

Note: I’d love to see some videos of Obama’s early political speeches to see if he really was as bad as these comments make out – I searched for a couple of hours but with no luck.  If you know where to find one, please post the link in the comments!

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