State of the Union Speech: Winning the Future

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Jan 26

For 221 years America has been absorbed by the President’s annual State of the Union speech.The speech, given by the President in Congress, has been a regular occurrence since the days of George Washington. It’s got a wider audience now, of course. First broadcast on the radio in 1923 (Calvin Coolidge) and then on television in 1947 (Harry Truman).

The State of the Union speech was live web-cast in 2002 (George W Bush) and broadcast on high definition television in 2004 (George W Bush). The net result? An audience for the speech of some 48 million.

President Obama’s speech on Tuesday night was not thought to be on a par with his Tucson speech given last week. But it certainly rallied the faithful with a very strong call to arms.

His introduction was taken up with the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson. He noted how the shooting had served to unite America.

“But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passion and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater– something more consequential than party or political preference.”

He’s prepared to play to the gallery with comments resonant of his earlier glories:

“I believe we can.”

The word “dream” appeared 12 times in his speech. An American Dream speech. He used the phrase to link in with the shattered dreams of one of the victims of the Tucson shooting and then the realised dreams of real everyday Americans. With his title, “Winning the Future“, this speech was future rich, not dwelling on the past or the bitterness of the past.

His conclusion was taken up with a re-affirmation of the special status enjoyed by America. This was a key part of his poignant introduction and it was no surprise that he returned to this point. He noted how America has no equal and is more than the sum of its parts. Many commentators drew a parallel with the “shining city on a hill” phrase used by Ronald Reagan in the campaigns of 1984 and his farewell to office speech.

Such parallels signal good speech writing and fine delivery.

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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+

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