January 26, 2009
Here’s one final thought on Obama’s presence during his inauguration speech.
Think about how you felt while listening to his speech. Then read the text of his speech. Do you get the same feeling?
If we go through the various ways we could have taken in his speech, we’d get varying degrees of his presence:
- Reading the text would capture his ideas.
- Listening to the speech on the radio, we would get a much greater sense of Obama himself, his rhythm and pacing as he delivered his words, and a feeling for what he felt was important through his tone of voice.
- Watching him speak on TV, we would not only get his ideas and the emphasis he places on different aspects of his talk, but we would also see his stature, his body language, the calm and reassuring demeanor.
- Sitting in the front row as he delivers the talk would give us the full impact of his talk and his presence which gets conveyed through a felt sense of the human to human connection with Obama as a person.
And while I’ve heard people say that there’s nothing exceptional in the words of the text – no quotable punch lines – I walked away from the speech (having watched it on TV) feeling that this was an important speech. I felt reassured, inspired, and full of a calm certainty that we are in the right hands at this moment in history.
And, I got this far more from Obama’s presence than his words. I only wish I could have been there in person.
I’d be interested to hear from those of you who were there and able to watch him in person.
January 21, 2009
The epitome of true leadership presence!
Presence is about so much more than the words that we speak. Yesterday we had several exquisite examples of real presence. Barak Obama and Elizabeth Alexander were the most compelling for me.
Barack Obama: Most people pay attention to his words because they are so riveting. I’m curious about how he conveys his presence. Check out the video on YouTube (for some reason I couldn’t copy it to this site). He begins to speak at 2:40 min. Notice how comfortable he is in his own skin, how he carries himself. Notice the silences, the pauses between important points. Notice how deliberate he is as he articulates his words. What else do you see that’s beyond the words themselves that conveys that this man is a great leader?
Elizabeth Alexander: Inauguration Poet (video below)
Watch how she let’s herself fully arrive in front of the audience before she begins. She takes a breath. She looks out at the audience. And, then she begins to speak. She too, in a different way, speaks with such deliberate phrasing. I know she is reciting poetry, but I think that there’s something we can learn about leadership presence from how she delivered those words.