One of the most persuasive communications that I have witnessed is Barak Obama’s Final State of the Union Address that was delivered in January 2016, in the United States House of Representatives. The target audience were the people of the United States; those who supported his work and those who felt that he had not led the nation competently.
The main focus of the address was the presidential elections slated for the end of that year. At that time, the Americans were sharply divided regarding the presidential candidates and their election manifestos. In the speech, Obama reminded them that they are one people despite their differences in ideologies, the problems that they faced were common.
Obama stated the challenges faced by different interest groups in America and the willingness of the administration to resolve them. In this regard, the former president mentioned the intention of his administration to effect tax-cuts for working families, reform the criminal justice system, ensure equal pay for equal work, fix the immigration system that he referred to as broken, protect children from gun violence, and raise minimum wages and paid leave. Mentioning these issues, that affect different sections of the American population, made the audience feel that Obama empathized with them. Not only did the president indicate the willingness of the administration to solve the current problems but also, the ones that were likely to occur in the future. Consequently, the audience felt that the president cared about their immediate and future worries.
Finally, having dealt with the concerns of the audience, Obama then reminded them of the challenges that America has faced and successfully overcome in the past. These past victories were intended to invoke confidence in the audience and encourage the people to work together.
The context of Obama’s address was effective because of his position as the president and the fact that he was about to leave the office. The communication would have been different if he was running for office, as it would have been full of promises to improve the lives of the Americans. The speech reveals the qualities of effective persuasion – the composition of the audience, exigency, and a set of constraints. Addressing those three elements made the arguments that Obama made appealing and effective.
How can the same elements be applied when communicating in a family setting?