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3 Secret Oratorical Techniques Used by Obama and Soekarno Part 2 of 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 which was published last week. We analysed the first secret to becoming a great orator. Now, lets dive into the other two techniques used by Obama and Soekarno.

Repetition of Words

The second secret is repetition. Mechanical repetition of words is deliberately done by Obama and Soerkarno to give emphasis and reminders to the audience. This technique will reinforce the message and in turn becomes an effective message delivery technique.


We want our children to live in an America that is not burdened by debt, that is not weakened up by inequality, that is not threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

(Paragraph 18 Obama Victory Speech 7 November 2012)


Ditengah-tengah (amidst) nyalanya api, ditengah-tengah (amidst) menggeledeknya meriam, ditengah-tengah (amidst) menghebatnya kekacauan, kita harus menjalankan, memperlengkapi, menyempurnakan pemerintahan kita.

(Paragraph 18 Independence Speech Soekarno August 17, 1946: Sekali Merdeka Tetap Merdeka)

You see how the two men are very skilled in the repetition of words. Conventional writing wisdom would require us to remove the “that is not” and “ditengah-tengah” in order to shorten the sentence and get to the point quickly. However. these great orators chose to deliberately repeat these words in order to drive home a message.

Using Body Language and Vocal Variety

The third secret is using appropriate body language and vocal variety.

Obama and Soerkarno understood the importance of the word intonation. They sometimes used fiery vocals for uplifting, and at other times spoke rather slowly with appropriate pauses to give a more profound effect to the audience.

Both these leaders’ body language in speech was just as good. They waved and pointed toward the audience, sincerely smiled, raised their hands in the air, stood upright with a sharp stare, and sometimes portrayed the facial expression of a soft hearted leader.


The expertise of Obama and Sukarno did not just happen. The two had mastered the techniques of great orators. Their expertise is not something that is gifted, but something that is learned and practiced continuously. You also can train and perform the technique.

You and I may not have the ambition to be the President of a country. However, these techniques may provide a lesson for us all. We may be required to speak in public one day. The use of emotionally charged words, repetition, as well as appropriate body language and intonation will certainly make us good motivational speakers or assume leadership roles.

3 Secret Oratorical Techniques Used by Obama and Soekarno Part 1 of 2

In an article in Forbes, Carmine Gallo a communications coach, stated that US President Barack Obama has been consistent in implementing three main oratorical techniques in his rhetoric. I was very interested to read the article and tried to compare it with one of the rhetorical styles of former Indonesian President, Sukarno. Interestingly, Sukarno also used the same three secret techniques.

In this part, we will learn together what these techniques are. Part 2 will be coming next week.

Using Emotionally Charged Language

The first secret is to use words that are charged with emotion. These emotionally charged words need to be neatly “stacked” one after another to create close emotional connections. As one word “builds” onto another, the audience becomes more and more emotional listening to it. Such a technique is extremely effective in piercing into the minds of the audience and making them “move into action.” The “stacking” also helps to create a smooth transition from one point to another.


Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

(Paragraph 1 & 2 Victory Speech Obama 7 November 2012)


Saya terharu sekali (I’m touched) , bahwa kita pada hari ini dapat merayakan hari ulang tahun Republik kita yang pertama. Saya ingat kepada Tuhan yang Maha Kuasa (I acknowledge the Almighty God), mengucapkan syukur alhamdulillah (I give thanks to Him), sebab usia Republik kita yang satu tahun itu, tak lain tak bukan ialah berkat dan rahmat Tuhan Yang Maha Kuasa (it is none other than the blessings and grace of God Almighty).

Dan proklamasi kita itu menderu di udara (roaring in the air), sebagai arus listrik yang mengetarkan jiwa bangsa kita! (as an electric current vibrating the soul of our nation!) Seluruh rakyat kita, seluruh bangsa kita, menyambut proklamasi kita itu sebagai penebusan janji pusaka yang lama (welcome the proclamation of our heritage as a long awaited promise of redemption), sebagai aba-aba yang mengeledek untuk memulai kehidupan yang baru (as a sign that signifies the start of a new life).

(Paragraphs 2 and 5 Independence Speech Soekarno August 17, 1946: Sekali Merdeka Tetap Merdeka)
The choice of words is emotionally appealing. It serves to uplift the human spirit. Just reading this text would have brought shivers down your spine. Not shivers of fear but shivers of hope. Such words uttered in the right atmosphere will make your audience feel that they can do anything. It will make them feel unstoppable.

Look out for Part 2 of this article next week and I’ll share the other 2 techniques…