Dane Elicits Pain About Obama’s Public Speaking

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    Editorial by Jonathan Bernstein

    Does being the chief resident of the White House erode your public speaking ability?

    Is it time to find some new speech writers?

    Are you making so many speaking mistakes that they become trends noticeable not just back home, but even by a DANISH TV station?

    Yes, yes and YES, Mr. Obama. English, apparently, doesn’t have to be your native language for a journalist to recognize some ridiculous redundancy in what you’ve told world leaders on international television broadcasts.

    Disclosure: I voted for you Mr. President, and as a Speech Communications major and public relations professional, have long admired your eloquence – not just when using the teleprompter that has resulted in much teasing, but also off the cuff. Empirically, I have observed a steady deterioration in the originality and fire in your public speaking, but none so embarrassingly obvious as those showcased by host Thomas Buch-Anderson on this clip from the Danish TV show Detektor.

    Seen it for yourself? Stopped laughing yet? Alright, let’s check the score card! We have five different countries told that they “punch above their weight,” a boxing analogy that would, of course, be completely meaningless to a high percentage of your audience. Then you told three that the U.S. “has no stronger ally” than them – akin to someone telling the same number of friends that each was your BEST friend. And at least seven more were told they were “one of our strongest allies,” another horse-race with no clear winner.

    How about you and your speechwriters starting to cross-reference new material with old – something rather easy to do with the same gadget on which I’m writing this editorial – and, as necessary, learn to use a thesaurus. Or more imagination. This sort of amateurism is an entirely unavoidable embarrassment that helps to create a crisis of confidence in your competence and sincerity.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]