Mr. President, next time stand up

I am a keen observer of Presidential communications strategies.

I admit I am a big geek when it comes to the long drawn out US presidential campaign season. I enjoy the marketing and PR aspects. Many people think the two-year campaign is too long. Not me. I love all the debates and speeches and talk show appearances. All marketers can learn from Presidential campaign strategies.

Yesterday, President Obama delivered the first Oval Office address of his presidency. While the speech itself was mostly good, I had a big issue with style. Direct link to video on the White House You Tube channel here.

If you are new to my blog, please note that this is a marketing strategy blog, not a political one. I make no observations on the political aspects of the President’s speech, nor the BP oil disaster.

The President spoke in the same way that every other President has – from his desk. In my opinion, this made his speech much less effective.

I think the address to the nation would have been much more powerful had the President stood instead.

1 As Senator, Presidential candidate, and as President, Barack Obama has delivered thousands of speeches while on his feet. Standing is natural for him. Sitting while delivering an important speech is not.

2 While tradition dictates that Presidents sit during Oval Office addresses, Obama has never been one for following others. His acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention, which he chose to do from Denver’s Mile High Stadium, was an important moment. Every other candidate going back many decades has spoken from the convention hall. If he had stood during yesterday’s Oval Office address, he would have signaled: “I am in charge.”

3 When you speak while standing, you have more control over your voice (because your diaphragm is in a natural position).

4 When you stand, you have more options for non-verbal communications like hand movements.

Mr. President, next time stand up.


UPDATE - My friend and speaker coach Nick Morgan blogged about the speech too. President Obama’s Oil Spill Speech -- how effective was it?

David Meerman Scott

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