Analysis of two speeches Obama and Bono

Topics: Barack Obama, Leadership, United States Pages: 5 (2543 words) Published: January 16, 2014
Analysis of two different speeches
I have chosen to look at two speeches, one given by Barack Obama and another given by Bono. Both are very important leaders with their own kind of political influence. By choosing these speeches with a serious content (education and the third world) and both addressing the same kind of audience (students), I will be able to give an useful comparison in terms of leadership and emotional intelligence. Barack Obama's ”Back to school” speech In his speech to the nation’s students (from kindergarten to 12th grade) President Barack Obama tries to stress the importance of getting an education and the responsibilities students have themselves. Addressing children ranging from 6 years to 18 years of age is a difficult task and Obama employs various strategies (both leadership and emotional) in order to get his message across to as many as possible. First of all, he talks directly to his listeners and makes sure they see him as a peer they can identify with and not only as the President of the United States, which exemplifies his social skills. Secondly, he uses an informal style, a simple language, many repetitions, plenty of diverse concrete examples they can relate to, and he speaks to their patriotic feelings and their sense of responsibility. Obama’s main challenge with his target group is their size and diversity, and he therefore has to employ several strategies in order to reach as many as possible. In order to quickly get his listeners’ attention, he starts out by speaking directly to them, “Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today?” A key element in getting the message across is that he gets the students’ attention, and that he then holds on to it. One way of doing this is by addressing them at eye level. He gets them to identify with him, respect him and deem him credible and then shows them that he genuinely cares about their situation (empathy). Obama does this by beginning the speech with anecdotes from his own life. He tells them how he was raised by a single mother, who could not afford to send him to the same schools as the other children, and how she homeschooled him at 4.30 in the morning. He also tells them how he got into trouble and did things that he is not proud of. By sharing these rather personal stories of struggle and adversity, Obama uses his emotional intelligence in order to gain credibility in their eyes. Listening to someone who you respect and who you believe is credible makes it a lot easier to accept the messages and values that they speak of. After having established contact with his listeners, Obama starts conveying his message and values to the students. Obama’s main message of the speech comes in two parts. Firstly, he says that getting an education is the student’s own responsibility. Parents, teachers and the government also have a responsibility (he takes on the responsibility as a leader of the nation), but at the end of the day, “none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities”. In this argument, Obama tries to speak to the students’ conscience and sense of responsibility. He shows them how so many people already have done so much for them, and that it is now their turn to do something; namely to take responsibility for their own education. Secondly, Obama talks about the responsibility towards the US. Not only do the students have a responsibility towards themselves, they also have a responsibility towards their country. Here the political aspect of the speech appears. The United States cannot function or compete in the future if there are no qualified people to fill the many functions a society has, such as nurses, doctors, senators etc., “What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.” This leadership argument speaks to the...
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