President Obama’s Haiti speech yesterday dedicated itself to the Haiti earthquake. But it tipped the scales at a modest five minutes in length. Modest in length it might have been but it still made all the right points: compassion, support and action from the USA.

Haiti Speech
President Obama Haiti Speech In 2010

This Haiti speech made very clear right from its beginning that Haiti’s predicament is terribly hard.

Indeed for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible.

Hands-On Haiti Speech From The President

But this speech was not just about wringing hands. Because this Haiti speech was very much hands-on. So it concerned family communications, aid efforts, search and rescue and, of course international co-operation. And all of this was done in under five minutes. President Obama spoke assuredly as we expect. He read from a script with the odd element of hesitation, but he managed to hide most of his “ers” with his trademark pausing strategy.

But, there was one question? Has a US President ever detailed both a State Department help line telephone number and a website address in the same speech?

Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747. I’m going to repeat that.


I would encourage those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to where you can learn how to contribute.

This public appeal by the President went a long way in displaying the strong connections between the USA and the Caribbean island of Haiti. And, with the free phone number, it was novel and effective. And, of course, it was brief. How long should your speech be is something we all have to contend with. Even Presidents.

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The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Now based in London, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK.

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