Learning from Obama
Along with about half the world, I sat on the edge of my sofa this morning to witness Barack Obama give his victory speech in Chicago. The speech was approximately 2000 words long, and he employed a technique he has used on other occasions. He is not the only one. East Coast Trains did it, with their ‘miniature prices’ advert (pictured below).
Talk- talk are doing it with their latest TV campaign, which you can watch here. The BIG picture is brought home with the small story.
In the sweeping vista of Obama’s national and international political vision, we also had no fewer than 15 small, individual stories. These ranged from a boy in Chicago, to a Navy Seal in Pakistan, to an eight-year old cancer patient in Ohio. In the firmament of Obama’s oratorical heaven , these are the pinprick stars which bring the sparkle. If you wanted a summary of his reason for using such stories, you can find it in this sentence: ‘when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own.‘
Students of the parables should find the technique familiar. It is the device which turns listening to engagement and ‘them’ to ‘us’.
Obama may have a lot of work to do, but so do we – if we want to capture hearts like this.