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Communicator of the Week: Barack Obama

Using a pause to good effect is a much underrated skill, but is evident in verbal communication from the very best.

Pausing is a trick used by actors to turn mundane dialogue into compelling drama or build anticipation. It is also used by the best in comedy to set up a punchline or a key phrase and those who wish to exclude authority by captivating their audiences.

As the foremost orator of his generation President Obama uses every trick in the book to eek out impact from his speeches. This is equally true of his recent speech to the United Nations as it is of these simple after dinner remarks which win him this week’s award.

During a speech at a fundraising event in California, Obama decided to poke fun at rapper and wanna-be presidential candidate, Kanye West. To an audience he knew would be friendly he offers up some advice cheekily described as “just some stuff that I've picked up on the way.” His remarks are a simple three point list (also another great rhetorical device to keep the attention of your audience) delivered with a twinkle in his eye and deliciously set up by the use of pauses to elevate his words.

Obama finishes with his point three framed, one again, by pauses that suggest a career in comedy could be open to him after he leaves the White House: "Do you really think that this country is going to elect a black guy from the South Side of Chicago with a funny name to be president of the United States?” For using the pause so well I make Barack Obama my Communicator of the Week.


Comunicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.

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