President Obama has been capturing the hearts and minds of our nation both old and young with his public speeches over the last decade. It was his speeches by during his runs for office and during his terms in office that were captivating and informative. With a particular interest for public speaking training, he has worked ceaselessly to appeal to every member of his very mixed, diverse, and divided audience.
President Obama often integrates stories and humor into his speeches. In one news conference, with a table dedicated to every major media outlet, there was a video played over dinner. The video was a clip of the birth of Simba, the lion cub in the Disney film, The Lion King. The President stated that due to previous (literal) controversy from the Republican side of the government as to the legitimacy of his birth certificate, he wanted to show a video of his birth as proof. This clip of the birth of the African lion cub produced a room full of laughter.
Adding to the humor in the room, once the clip had finished, the President took a moment to clarify specifically for the Fox News Table, that the video was NOT actually his birth, but that of a Disney cartoon. It was this humor that brought a slight smile to everyone in the room (some of Fox News staff aside) because it was lighthearted humor that related directly to an incident that everyone in the room had known about before sitting down to eat.
In one of his State of the Union addresses, directly following his election, President Obama incorporated stories into his speeches, stories that were not only something relatable to the average American in the audience and watching on television, but appealed to emotions by tugging at the heartstrings.
When providing support for how the economic stimulus package HAS in fact worked, and brought America out of the recession into which it had fallen, President Obama told stories of individuals who had been directly influenced by the stimulus package. He gave examples of a single mother who was able to go back to school and finish her education, in fact pointing to that same single mom in the audience so that everyone could see it was a real person, someone to whom they could all relate.
He told stories of other Americans who had fallen on hard times but were able to find work again thanks to the stimulus; again, pointing out these individuals who were standing and crying with happiness at how they had been directly helped by the President, the government, and the American people. Not only did the President tell stories that captured his audience, he gave them real life, individual examples as evidence of the work that had been done.
But more than that, he did not ask the audience to merely trust his words, he showed them. Adding a new kind of visual aid, people, he showed his audience that actual examples about which he had been talking. The real time reactions, the real appreciation in their face, tears in their eyes, and looks of triumph over their previously destitute situations pulled on the heart strings of everyone watching.