How President Obama Gave Stellar Inspirational Speeches

Love him or hate him, I think we can all agree that President Obama served an unforgettable term as the leader of the free world. Let’s not get carried away though; this isn’t about politics. This post is about how President Obama gave the most inspirational speeches of our time.

How to Give an Inspirational Speech

Obama has a way to tie society’s influences with the messages he tends to communicate. The way he crafts his words is impeccable, and I’m kind of surprised that no public speaking experts caught on to his techniques (at least, not enough to talk about them).

Here’s the thing, Obama didn’t just stick to the facts. He knew that he had to practice empathy to get his message out there. Furthermore, he knew he had to find a way to connect with the American people.

So, how did he do it?


He tapped into the American public’s emotions.

President Obama Delivers Public Speech
President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., May 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By tying the emotional needs of the public to his formal addresses, Obama set the grounds to make his audience relate to him on a personal level. Keep in mind, I said “personal” and not “presidential.” When he took the stage, he didn’t want the American people to look at him like he’s above-all-else. He wanted to establish equal ground between him and the person he’s addressing his message to.

By making himself appear as an equal, he enabled the American public not just to listen to what he has to say, but to convince themselves that what he is saying is agreeable, in every sense of the word.

The late American poet Maya Angelou said it best:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

President delivers Veterans Day address at Arlington National Cemetery
President Barack Obama delivers the Veterans Day address during a ceremony in the amphitheater at The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery Nov. 11, 2015. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

Obama’s Public Speaking Techniques in Action

On June 15, 2008, President Obama dropped a stellar quote that showed just how inspirational his speeches are.

Life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children – all of our children – a better world. Even if it’s difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime.”

President Obama being emotional during address on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary
President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House regarding the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Dec. 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The first thing to notice here is how the topic concerns children. Except, he never talked about his children. He spoke about “our” children. He constantly used pronouns like “your” and “our,” and never said “my” once, taking the focus of attention away from him and shined it on his audience.

What later followed was a discussion on the greater responsibility of parenthood; how life is only as good as how our children see it:

  • “Even when it’s difficult” – this expresses emotional stress and sadness; an emotion people are all too familiar with.
  • “Even when the work seems great” – this expresses happiness and passion; again, an emotion people are familiar with.
  • “Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime” – this expresses sorrow and pain; one more time, an emotion people are all familiar with.

President Obama kept hitting those raw emotional triggers repeatedly, just to remind the American people to look at their children like they’re the most valuable beings in the world (which, of course, they are).

President Barack Obama tears up as he delivers remarks to announce steps that the administration is taking to reduce gun violence, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 5, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama tears up as he delivers remarks to announce steps that the administration is taking to reduce gun violence, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 5, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama Was Genuine

Just to be clear, nobody is saying that President Obama used his emotions as tools to manipulate the American public’s way of thinking. The reason why he is such a powerful public speaker is because he genuinely portrayed his feelings to level with his audience. Being genuine is the fundamental principle here: if you want your audience to feel what you feel, then you need to express what you’re feeling.

Inspirational Speeches are Based on Emotion

A good speaker will focus on coherence and clarity to get the message across. A great speaker will take those factors to the next level and stir them into the emotion melting pot. By following Obama’s techniques, you have a good chance to rock your next presentation, speech, or even public address if you’re running for office one day. Go out there and speak from the heart.

How Were You Inspired?

Was there ever a time where you felt inspired by President Obama? We’d love to know! Drop a line in the comments section.

This post was featured on Geetesh Bajaj’s PowerPoint blog, Indezine. Have a gander at some of the content published there, his stuff is good!

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah is a PowerPoint ninja that founded Slide Cow, a learning platform for all things PowerPoint, presentations and public speaking. When he's not designing slides or giving presentations, he's on another coffee run.
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