I was glued to my TV during the DNC, moved to tears watching Michelle Obama close out the first night of the Convention.
And then I saw her speak in person… a mere twenty feet from the stage!
This past week, the First Lady made a campaign visit to Tallahassee. I anxiously stood in line for an opportunity to join 10,000 other supporters. From the moment she stepped up to the mic, Mrs. Obama’s confidence rang through the civic center, bouncing off every wall to fire up all attendees. The arena exploded with cheers when she did the FSU tomahawk and FAMU rattler strike.
Strong and true, full of conviction, not only did our First Lady get me FIRED UP and READY TO GO for the upcoming election, but she also taught me three important lessons on effective communication.
She was candid
Michelle is a woman of rhetoric. When she addressed the packed arena, she was not reading from a script or reciting from a prompter, yet she is not overly rehearsed either. She remained confident, choosing her words carefully based on the crowd’s reactions and feeding off that energy. She loves her husband and makes you feel it and believe it in a way that comes across as organic. While watching her speak, her demeanor made me feel as if she was looking directly at me, grabbing my full attention.
What stood out to me most is how Mrs. Obama addressed the room with total ease. From the perspective of a nurturing mother, empowering woman, and loving wife, our First Lady appealed to the values of America, focusing on the importance of connection. She conveyed President Obama’s connection to his family, to his country and to his duties – with a focus on continuing to move forward in a positive direction. Michelle expanded on the President’s narrative but did not bash opponents, nor did she dwell on the past along the way. Instead, she focused on some of the fundamentals that Americans feel are important – to build a good life for yourself, for your family and for your community.
She told a story.
While focusing on family, women and healthcare, Michelle shared a personalized approach to each message, and acted as the narrator of her husband’s story. She wove in personal stories of her and the President’s upbringing, showing and not telling, that they grew up just like you and I. Barack Obama’s life choices, as shared by his wife, like turning down high paying jobs to help out struggling communities or his innate respect for his mother – depict sacrifice and a true display of his character. The simple wish of wanting more for your family and a bright future for your children, hopes that are attainable if we continue to move forward with Barack as our president. Michelle makes us all feel like we have something in stake, leading to my next point.
She delivered a call to action.
The First Lady instilled a sense of urgency and social responsibility for the future of our country, adding on a layer of accountability for her audience. She suggested early voting for supporters and to actively engage in helping others get out there and vote. Whether it be volunteering to renew registrations, driving friends to the polls, even sharing the need for voting with your parents – all were considered to be significant ways to be active. “These issues aren’t political, they’re personal,” she explained, further emphasizing that we are all in this together.
That night, Mrs. Obama reminded me why I voted for her husband four years ago, reiterating his humble beginnings and passion for making the American dream an achievable reality. She told her husband’s story and tied it back to the campaign, weaving in references to women, the middle-class and military and minority families, touching on the dreams that Barack Obama has transformed into realities. Michelle’s grassroots approach left all those who attended feeling FIRED UP and READY TO GO!