A Matter of Speech
January 22, 2013

Be it for nomination, presidential acceptance, or Letterman interview, it’s no secret that Barack Obama has a way with words. And yesterday, during his second Inaugural Address, President Obama has yet again outdone himself. Within 19 minutes and 2,117 words, his speechwriters had put together some of his most beautifully articulated lines.

“Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.”

I had to re-read the above paragraph a few times to fully understand its context -- unsuccessfully. But I suppose that’s the sign of an effective speech. It gets you intrigued and mesmerized as the words linger on, long after the man has left the room. You might not comprehend its meaning entirely, but it leaves you inspired. It's a bit like watching Family Guy.

As I went through the text on the White House website, a part of me wished that I was on the website of one of our own government ministries instead, scouring for that striking line the minister had tactfully delivered in his speech earlier that day. Doing that in the real world however, would probably leave me lost in the jungle of titles and salutations that takes up half the speech.

I may not have the exposure to garner enough experience to speak from. But within the few official or corporate events I’ve attended, “the speech” is often times the dreaded part of the agenda. Long, monotonous drone of big-worded murmurs fill the room as the speaker gets more absorbed in himself and the audience doze off or post photos of their shoes on Instagram. Until dinner is served.

A speech is an important platform for leaders to project their ideas. As elementary as that sounds, it’s still being overlooked by certain quarters as merely a formality. I certainly hope that people who often grace the podium take note of this and invest more time in crafting out their speech. Because I’m running out of stuff to Instagram while they speak.


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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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