[By Maria D’Alessandro and Léa Salameh]

Barack Obama has proved time and again that one of his strongest traits lies in public speaking. Thought to be one of the greatest orators of our time, it is no surprise that the former president’s farewell address was motivating, inspiring and captivating.

As communications professionals, we can follow these four lessons to optimize our own public speaking skills:

Know your audience
Being able to connect with your audience is the most important aspect of public speaking. It will help you reach your public on a deeper level while effectively delivering key messages. Ever since his keynote address in 2004, Obama has demonstrated his ability to resonate with his audience.

Krysten Copeland, founder of KC & Co Communications, states that, “even if you don’t know the people you are speaking to, try to visualize one audience member in intimate detail and speak directly to him or her. Everyone else will feel much more connected as well.”

Build a community
Building a community and maintaining your audience’s attention during a speech are crucial to ensuring your message is memorable. Social media has provided PR pros with various platforms to build their audiences. Additionally, citing a quotation, cracking a joke and telling a story are all effective and innovative ways of capturing your audience and keeping them wanting more.

Creating and maintaining a community within your audience takes a lot of work. Even Barack Obama has had to work hard to achieve his current level of public speaking.

Pause between sentences
When Obama speaks, he speaks with clarity and adjusts his tempo to give power to central areas of the speech. His deliberate pauses give the audience time to process what he has said. This technique gives his words weight and keeps the audience engaged.

Don’t be afraid to show emotion

Obama has always been willing to share his emotions with his audience. We have seen him laugh, cry, joke, be intimate, be serious and show determination. Emotional moments like these humanize the speech.

As professional communicators, we should remember that our audience hears every word we say. Incorporating the lessons above will allow us to gain our audience’s trust and invoke a response.

(Photo by 271277 via Pixabay)