Obama’s message to Kenyans: The 6 Communication Lessons

When a president of the most developed democracies gives a statement to an audience, you would guess that it’s something of concern. This is more so when the statement is directed to an audience that is of his genes and not the ones-whose genes-he’s leading. Key to this; is how he says it.

Below we look at the 6 lessons we can learn from his 2 minute video address.

  • Non Verbal communication. It is said that as little as 10% of communication takes place verbally, and that facial expressions, gestures and postures form part of our culture and language. Being a polished communicator he uses this to his disposal. In his video statement, you could see himsmile, moving his head and hands-at some point-in affirmation or approval. Most notably he maintained eye contact-seemingly looking at his audience. He complimented his verbal and non verbal communication. This is crucial when communicating.
  • Language. Local understandable language – for themost part you would expect him to speak in English-which he did-but most notably, he started off with “habari yako”. This is Hello in Swahili. In saying this, he connected with the audience right away. Even if the rest of the video message was in English, it had subtitles-which could easily be read by someone who doesn’t understand Kiswahili. In short, he didn’t leave his audience hanging-or lost.  It’s crucial to identify with your audience at the very first instance when communicating. This gets your audience interested.
  • Timing. When you are communicating to your audience, it’s very important to note the timing of your message. In other words, you need to ask yourself, is the message appropriate at that very time? At the time of this message, President Obama knew that Kenyans were going into elections-and so; giving them his thoughts, wouldn’t have come at a better moment. For your audience to better understand you, you need to tie your message to whatever is relevant to them during that particular time.                  
  • obama-pic3
  • Tool of communication. The world has gone digital. The internet is a powerful and rapidly expanding medium. One of it advantages is that it offers the possibility of interacting with a large audience. Social media tools-and indeed youtube-cannot be ignored. That’s if you are a communicator worth your salt. The President knows this to well and that’s why he has his own YouTube channel. If you are communicating through a medium-or communication tool, you need to know whether that medium is available to your audience. Being that it could be easily tracked it’s no wonder that at the time of writing this it had been watched 183,231 times. Leave alone that non-Kenyans and Kenyans alike, were able to share it on Twitter and Facebook.

Quote: Every country has its own way of saying things. The important thing is that which lies behind people’s words.  —Freya Stark, The Journey’s Echo

  • Message focus. Another important aspect that we learn is that you need to focus on your message so as not to loose your audience. Sticking to the subject enables the end users of your message to be better informed or persuaded. In his statement, President Barack Obama tells the people of Kenya that the upcoming elections are a historic opportunity for Kenyans to stand together, as a nation, for peace and progress, and for the rule of law. He said this politely and objectively without going out of the topic.
  • Grabbing listener’s attention. When talking to your audience, your opening lines should have some form of relevance-that will grab their attention so as to contribute in achieving your objective. This is important as it will determine whether your listeners will be attentive or not. Mr. President aroused interest by first speaking in the native language. He then went ahead to say how he is pleased with the resilience and strength on the Kenyan people. In saying this, he’s being positive-and as a result, he arouses interest as he makes one want to know what he’ll say next.

So, when you about to communicate-to an audience-remember these 6 key lessons, so as to effectively deliver your message and leave a lasting impression.

Click here to watch the video

 

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