The Inauguration Speech – Pro and, yes, Con

President Barack Obama gave a great Inaugural speech today. Yet it was not legendary. Here’s why – on both counts:


  • Content. It was well written, struck the right note of hope and opportunity in the midst of very serious and difficult times.
  • Rule of Three. If this was going to be a long post, I could take a page or two listing the oratorical devices he used effectively. Particularly the Rule of Three.
  • His delivery was strong of voice and cadence. He is a master of cadence and oratory.

That said, expectation was his enemy. The great majority loved his speech, yet so many expected so much from the great orator that some were disappointed.


  • There was no memorable phrase that will stick with us. This man, this time and this occasion cried out for an elevated, singular moment like:

“Ask not what your country can do for you…”
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself…”
“I have a dream…”

  • For a master of rhythm and cadence, I felt President Obama did not use his pauses and applause moments with his usual skill. He didn’t “work the crowd” in crass language, although I admit it’s not easy to work a crowd of a couple of million people. And yet, such a crowd and an event as this can be combined to generate an unusually feverish pitch. The crowd was satisfied, but not elevated.
  • Teleprompters. Obama could use the teleprompters more skillfully – and not just look side to side. If he varied his ‘reading’ rhythm he would be able to vary both his eye contact, his facial expression (not one smile) and his voice.

President Obama’s greatest speech has yet to come.

Tonight I’m going to post some additional clips (in a new service and internet capability!) and show :

  • The Most Momentous Moment
  • The Most Singular Moment
  • The Most Memorable Moment

Master Speakers King and Obama

 Martin Luther King’s Speaking Style, and Barack Obama As we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, we are reminded what a great man he was, and what a great communicator. I have posted before on his speaking style and the use of the great rhetorical and oratorical devices like alliteration, repetition, … Continue reading