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How to diplomatically deliver messages – the “#Obama also” technique pt 1

When you need to deliver messages that are “less palatable” – you can use a technique I call the Obama “Also” technique.

It’s based on a technique recently seen and heard in his address at the University of Queensland in Brisbane during the G20.

O UQ speech

Even if you are not a fan of Obama’s politics, you can definitely learn from his communication techniques.

Basically, the Obama “Also” technique involves:

1. starting with a positive, more palatable message. Then when the audience is accepting of the positive message, you…

2. pivot to the less positive and less palatable message with an “also”.

Obama uses the Also technique several times:

1. Obama wants to warn the young generation about dangers – but he starts with the positives of these times – people generally living longer with greater security.

“…when you look at the facts, opportunities are limitless for this generation.You’re living in an extraordinary time.” (positive message)

“But what is also true, is that alongside this dynamism, there are genuine dangers that can undermine progress.” (He then goes to list the dangers facing the young generation.)

You’ll also note the memorability of the alliteration – dynamism and dangers

2. Obama wants to say that the US will “encourage” China to stick to the same rules as other nations:  – but he diplomatically starts with positives.

“…the United States welcomes the continuing rise of a China that is peaceful and prosperous and stable and that plays a responsible role in world affairs.”

You’ll also note the diplomatic wording within this sentence – it starts with positives at the start of the sentence “welcomes the continuing rise” then puts conditions around the welcome – welcomes a China THAT IS stable and responsible.

Obama then pivots with the ALSO to:

“But in this engagement we are also encouraging China to adhere to the same rules as other nations — whether in trade or on the seas.”

U Q Obama speech

Now, Obama may just be delivering lines crafted by skilled speechwriters. He used to write his own speeches – but now he is so busy he has skilled writers who are familiar with and “echo” his cadences and style of delivering messages – including his ALSO technique.

As a real “speech nerd”, I been studying his speeches since 2004.

Now, YOU don’t have to be as smooth as Obama – yet you can easily apply the ALSO technique.

(I even use it at home with the family)

When you have a less palatable message – start with something more positive that your audience is likely to find more appealing.

It’s true that PM (positive message)

It’s also true that LPM (less positive message)

T and Cleo and bike

You can even use the Yes We Can + Also method – like this (as I use it to my kids)

Yes we can go to the pool today. (most positive thing first)

We also have to tidy the house before we go.

I find your audience is more likely to “go along” with the “tidy your house” message WHEN you start with something more positive!

TB training group

I encourage you to try the ALSO technique. Make it an automatic response – you can use in conversations and meetings and answering questions as well as in more formal presentations.

Can you make less palatable messages more appealing to your audience?

Can you be more diplomatic?

Can you be more persuasive with your kids?

Yes you can!

In part 2, I’ll share how Obama (as a guest in Australia for the G20) told Australians and the Australian government that they needed to do more in the global fight against climate change.

I’ll share how did Obama delivered the message in a more positive and less accusing way?


montage words nerd

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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.



One comment on “How to diplomatically deliver messages – the “#Obama also” technique pt 1

  1. efangelist
    February 12, 2015

    Reblogged this on busy dad to better dad and commented:

    Want to encourage your kids to do something? This political communication ALSO technique can help! I love when my work life helps my home life 🙂

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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