Monday was Martin Luther King Day. And on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 the new president of the USA will address his nation and the World. Expectations are high. The contrast with his predecessor could not be more extreme. Barack Obama has already shown himself to be an exceptional orator and a man in-tune with the feeling of his nation.
Before an audience of millions he will need to touch each person. He will need to address their deep hopes and aspirations, not just their material concerns. As Martin Luther King did, he will need to use the drama and emotional power of his oratory to give substance to his message. And his message needs to be one that will help energise and empower people to realise that it is by more by their own actions, rather than those of government, that change can be achieved.
Most communications via media are moderated by the editor and constrained by the space and other technical limitations of the medium. True, Obama’s message will be carried by media, but this time there will be little editorial interference – many channels will carry the speech verbatim and in full. The power of his rhetoric will come through the personalisation of his message to his audience – direct communication to the heart as well as the head.