Friday, September 25, 2009

The Sounds of Obama

The other morning, I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) and they played excerpts from three different speeches that President Obama had made the day before. Three speeches on the same day and the what struck me was that each speech SOUNDED completely different. When he spoke at the Middle East press conference, his voice was strong, direct, no nonsense and, according to the NPR radio announcer, scolding. When he spoke at the Bill Clinton dinner, his pace was lilting, slower filled with carefully placed and lengthy pauses. You could hear him smiling. Then in the snippet played from a United Nations address, we heard pure old fashion oratory style - the slight sing song, the measured tone, the predictable rhythm. One man, one day, many voices.

Why does he do that? The sound and tone of your voice contributes 38% to the effectiveness of your communication. We wouldn't wear a swim suit to a banquet or a ball gown to a beach party. Every audience, every subject, every situation should warrant a slight adjustment to a speakers tone or style in order for communication to be the most effective. I marvelled at the skill Obama demonstrated on that one day. I hope we all take a lesson from his playbook and continually add to and adjust our vocal repertoire.