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President Obama’s Back to School speech this week generated much less hostile reaction than his speech last year. Undoubtedly there were some schools that didn’t allow the President’s school speech to be shown. But many more had no such qualms. Despite the concerns the President appears determined to continue speaking about education to students at the start of each school year.

President school speech
President School Speech In Philadelphia, 2010

The Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia, PA, was the scene for this year’s speech. And the theme? My Education, My Future.

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’1′ hide_logo=’0′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’0′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVla3tjvJD4&feature=youtu.be[/responsive_video]

The President’s school speech included some well-used references to his life at school. Noting the value and importance of education he implored the country’s student to work hard and earn good grades.

“But I came to Masterman to tell all of you what I think you’re hearing from your principal and your superintendent, and from your parents and your teachers: Nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing…absolutely nothing …is beyond your reach, so long as you’re willing to dream big, so long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education, there is not a single thing that any of you cannot accomplish, not a single thing. I believe that.”

He used examples from his life, that of Michelle Obama, his family and students across the country…each with some very tough backgrounds.

President School Speech Full Of Technique

The President also referenced his first Commencement Challenge in 2009 and the winners in Kalamazoo. That was an occasion we featured with the President Obama Kalamazoo speech.

“Last year I was in Michigan at Kalamazoo and had just a wonderful time. Although I got to admit, their graduating class was about 700 kids and my hands were really sore at the end of it because I was shaking all of them.”

The President was on typically ebullient form. His delivery was slow and measured and with passion

His final thought in the school speech:

“So my main message to all of you here today: I couldn’t be prouder of you. Keep it up. All of you I know are going to do great things in the future. And maybe some time in the 21st century, it’s going to be one of you that’s standing up here speaking to a group of kids as President of the United States.”

So, a short President’s school speech at less than 17 minutes. But it certainly lays down the challenge for the USA’s public schools.

Of course you can read plenty of public speaking tips with our series of tips, hints and suggestions. And with more than 100 top tips for speakers and presenters, there’s something for every speaking opportunity. Plus, when you want to give your public speaking skills a further boost then you’ll find a training course or coaching session a welcome addition. So, when the time is right, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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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.

  • Hi Simon,
    I gather that his speechwriter is Jon Favreau who has been with him for a few years. Before Obama, Favreau worked for John Kerry when he sought the Presidency. I’m sure that the President has a solid working arrangement with his speech writing team…but his time is pretty short so he has to depend on others to get it right!

  • I’d agree – great presentation ability! Do you have any knowledge of who does the speech-writing itself? How much input does the President have?


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