Full Marks for President’s Back to School Speech

By Andrew Ivey | Speeches

Sep 17

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 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.

Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia was the scene for this year’s speech. And the theme? My Education, My Future.

His 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.

“Here in America you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”

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

Using analogies, the speech also cited the likes of J.K.Rowling, the author, and Michael Jordan, the basketball player. Each overcame early rejection to reach the highest levels of performance.

The President was on typically ebullient form. His delivery was slow and measured and with passion. But, there’s one cliche that’s getting into many of his speeches right now:

“At the end of the day”

It doesn’t fit with the rest of his material and it’s a mystery why he’s using it at all

His final thought in the speech:

“Don’t let your family down, or your country down, most of all don’t let yourself down. Make us all proud.”

A short speech at less than 17 minutes it certainly lays down the challenge for the USA’s public schools.

Yes, Please

Get The Newsletter Today

Telling It Straight is our very own public speaking tips newsletter. Packed with skills tips to help you with your next speech, why not receive it this month?


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+

  • Blogmaster says:

    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?


  • >