5 public speaking lessons from Obama’s farewell address

Millions watched the commander in chief’s final address to the nation. Here’s what PR pros can take from it.

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Those who watched President Barack Obama’s recent farewell address on TV were part of an audience of more 24 million.

Countless others joined in to watch on digital media channels. For PR pros, Obama’s speech offers many lessons for connecting with our audiences.

Here are five you can apply to your own presentations:

1. Know your audience.

Obama knew his audience. That’s an important element to connecting, says Krysten Copeland, founder of ‎Washington, D.C.-based KC & Co Communications.

“Throughout the years, Obama has proved that he’s very much in touch,” Copeland says. “He understands some of the key words and phrases that will spring his audience into action.”

One of the warmest moments of Obama’s farewell address was when he left the hall with his family, greeting people he recognized in the crowd. At one point, Michelle tapped him on the shoulder to point out what might have been an old old friend from their pre-D.C. days in Chicago.

Even if you don’t know the people you are reaching out to, try to visualize one audience member in intimate detail, and speak directly to him or her. Everyone else will feel much more connected to you, as well.

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