Today I happened to rewatch Obama give his memorial speech for Nelson Mandela and it moved me deeply. I am not alone in thinking that Mr B O is a truly wonderful public speaker. His oratory skills are pretty much perfect. Of course the man has the added bonus of once being a high flying lawyer and now the President of the United States with all the help on hand that he needs, but more than that, he is a wonderful speech writer and natural speaker. He charts Mandela’s life from a young age to his eventual death, building his story with such personal and human detail, always remaining physically and vocally calm and engaged with his listeners. His use of the ‘pause’ is made all the more powerful because he uses it deliberately to draw us in and make us listen even harder. His passion becomes our passion, only raising his voice twice in the whole speech so that his words make the most impact. We are not only hearing about the great spirit and god like strength of Mandela but also about the integrity and humanity of this great leader himself. ‘He makes me want to be a better man’ Obama says as he continues his eulogy to the present day and the lessons we can learn from Mandela’s legacy. So the story which was personal becomes political and then reverts back to the personal again but it’s not glaringly obvious. Obama is a master story teller. He commands our attention through the conviction of his words. He always looks in control (lots of practising with auto cues no doubt, carefully placed each side of his mic) and has complete confidence and belief in what he says. ‘We achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves’. Well the man did a beautiful job of doing exactly that. His tribute to Mr Mandela will be remembered and cherished for a very long time.
Barry you did the man proud.