Saturday, October 03, 2009

Speaking in public

Although I'm an engineer by education, over the past couple years or so it seems my career has turned into one of a professional presenter. I'm a PowerPoint impresario and I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself. The keys to every presentation are essentially the same: know your audience, stick to one central theme, convey information (or entertainment), and prepare for questions and discussion. I have one essay taped up over my desk: Jay Lehr's criticism of boring speakers titled "Let there be stoning!" (PDF)
They are not sophisticated, erudite scientists speaking above our intellectual capacity; they are arrogant, thoughtless individuals who insult our very presence by their lack of concern for our desire to benefit from a meeting which we chose to attend.
To that point, let's face it: both Michelle and Barack Obama gave awful speeches to the IOC. Ann Althouse has a long post about both presentations which were at turns illogical, mawkish, self-centered and manipulative. Michelle Obama's argument for Chicago appeared to center around the fact that her father had multiple sclerosis but really loved sports. Oh, and he was from Chicago, so there's the connection.

Then she introduced her spouse in a weighty tone cleaved by dramatic pauses:

My husband
The President of the United States
Barack Obama

Look FLOTUS, everybody knows who your husband is. You don't need to stretch it out as if the IOC committee will swoon at his mere introduction.

President Obama's speech was terrible for the simple fact that he didn't seem interested in making Chicago's case for the Olympics. Instead, with enormous self-love he tried to draw some zig-zag line from the U.S. Presidential election through Chicago and - hey - give us the Olympics. People wearing the same sports jersey at a sporting event become fast friends? Why I've never heard about this phenomenon occurring anywhere outside Chicago! Certainly not in the soccer stadiums around Rio or Madrid. In the end, it was a meandering pastiche that failed in its fundamental goal of persuading the IOC to vote for Obama's hometown.

So, in sum, Obama was arrogant, thoughtless, and insulted the people he was there to convince with his half-assed presentation. He did more harm than good and diminished the prestige of his office; the criticism he's receiving from all sides is well-deserved.

Extra - Bizarre Q&A responses, too.

More - Legal Insurrection on O's presentation: "It is a speech that could have been delivered at almost any corporate diversity training session, but as a reason to award the Olympics to Chicago and not Rio, it was delusional." Yup.


jason said...

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Anonymous said...

thanks Jason, the comment spammers are getting clever.

Viking, I tried to watch Michelle's speech but just cringed. It was awful.

I think the White House is more than just inexperienced, they are lazy. I see a lack of preperation in everything.

A professional pitch would be specific and show why Chicago would be best for the Games/IOC. But that would require actual work -- spending hours looking at details. LAZY!

Anonymous said...

Jed Lewison:

"Leaving aside the question of whether or not Chicago should have pursued the 2016 Olympics in the first place, on a purely political level, maybe President Obama got lucky that the city wasn't selected.

First, if Chicago had been selected, there wouldn't have been the spectacle of conservative pundits celebrating America not getting the Olympics. It shines a spotlight on the petty, hateful nature of his political opposition.

Second, you can bet your bottom dollar that if Chicago had been selected, the 2016 Olympics would have been turned into ACORN all over again, with James O'Keefe running sting after sting.

Instead, Chicago didn't win out. Compared to eight years of failure on th economy, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it was a pretty small defeat. In the end, the most memorable thing about it will be the partisan, mean-spirited response by the American right."

Anonymous said...

The world has zero respect for the boring, arrogant, thoughtless, awful, illogical, mawkish, self-centered, manipulative, melodramatic, terrible, uninterested, self-loving, meandering, failed, arrogant 2, thoughtless 2, insulting, half-assed, diminished, bizarre, delusional Barack Obama!

Anonymous said...


Watch the speeches! This will explain to you why Chicago lost.

You can't control your political opponents but you can control your own performance and this was a poor one by the Obamas.

You deserve to get politicallly attacked when you get humiliated on the international stage like that.

Nigel Tufnel said...

This 'issue' is generating orders of magnitude more commentary and emotion than substantive issues about entitlements, health care costs, the economy, etc.

If this were a business decision the choice would have been Chicago or Tokyo. It wasn't. Both cities were eliminated in the opening rounds of votes. This all came down to internal politics at the IOC (as it typically does). The lobbying of longtime IOC insider Juan Antonio Samaranch was far more significant than any speech or presentation made by anyone else, including the POTUS or the FLOTUS.

The Obamas didn't put a lot of effort into this because it wasn't worth it. Everyone knew Chicago didn't stand a chance. All along the choice was between Madrid and Rio. The speeches were made because politically it would have been worse for them to do nothing given that Chicago is their home town. Their target audience was their supporters from Chicago, not the IOC.

Those looking to pounce on the Obamas for 'failure' care deeply about this. Most others have already forgotten about it.

Anonymous said...

Beyond that, the retroactive explanations don't exactly ring true (it's all about the speech, don'tcha know). Surely, all those cheering conservatives had carefully considered the cadences of Michelle Obama's introduction before deciding to erupt with delight.

Jon Stewart's writers called it: those who applauded hate Obama even more than they love America.