This week was dominated by the president’s state of the union address. And since then, I have been preoccupied with reflecting on it. It certainly was an interesting hour-long lecture. But when all is said and done, just what was really accomplished? What wasn’t? And what could be?
As a speech, it certainly was comprehensive. Many could easily see it as inspiring and visionary. It was a complete list of initiatives that, if implemented, could certainly move the country forward. But many no doubt were also wondering just how all this could ever be paid for, or why he is proposing so many different ideas all at once. In short, the address might have sounded overwhelming and unrealistic– especially in today’s economic environment.
In public speaking 101 I remember learning that effective presentations generally begin with the speaker demonstrating an ”insider’s empathy” with the needs of key audience segments. Then the content should explain no more than four or five doable initiatives, each supported by very practical sounding examples and stories. And each story should be selected to relate to the needs of the most important audience segments, so everyone wins something. The conclusion, then, should simply repeat the main points, followed by an inspirational rallying cry to help reshape the future together.
The state of the union address this week was a very interesting and comprehensive lecture about all we should be able to do to move America forward. It was enjoyable to hear, and I can support all of it. But would it not have been possible to put forth a more focused, pragmatic and doable plan?