Obama’s DNC speech in 2020: learn from an analysis of his delivery

December 16, 2022

4 min read

Obama's DNC speech in 2020: learn from an analysis of his delivery

What if you had the oratory skills of Barack Obama? Watching him in action is a great way to learn. Even better, you can learn from a detailed analysis of one of his most important speeches.

At the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Obama talked about his “friend Joe,” laying out a case for the American people to elect him in November. Whether you agree with Obama or not, you can pick up some of the skills that make him an impactful public speaker.

Continue reading to see how the free Yoodli AI speech coach analyzed Obama’s DNC speech – specifically his visual, verbal, and vocal delivery.

Obama’s DNC speech

The 2020 Democratic National Convention was unlike any other. It was a month late. It was downsized. Most people didn’t even show up … in person. Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 DNC adjusted accordingly and completed its mission — nominating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the Democratic ticket.

Obama delivered his speech virtually, from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. Using the U.S. Constitution as both a philosophical and a visual backdrop, he laid out his case for a Biden presidency.

With Obama’s DNC speech, we see an interesting dynamic. Here was a former United States president talking about a former United States vice president and presidential candidate, and he called him “my friend Joe.” Throughout the speech, Obama referred to Biden simply as “Joe,” showing us the close relationship between the two men and portraying the candidate as a regular guy to whom we all can relate.

AI analysis of Obama's 2020 DNC speech

We’re not going to delve into the political aspects of Obama’s DNC speech, but we are going to take a deep dive into Obama’s visual, verbal, and vocal delivery. Let’s take a look at the real-time analytics from Yoodli AI speech coach for the first 10 minutes of the speech.

Obama’s DNC speech: speaking insights

Yoodli provides insights into two categories here: word choice and delivery. For each, the insights are organized into “what went well” and “what could have gone better.” (Although, for this speech, everything went well for these elements!)

Word choice: filler words

Obama used zero filler words such as um, uh, hm, and you know. The audience didn’t suffer through any wasted or distracting syllables. It’s clear that each word was carefully selected beforehand.

Several factors contribute to this excellent score:

  • Obama is an experienced and gifted speaker.
  • He read from a script. He didn’t have to stop and think about what to say next.
  • He rehearsed.
  • He took his time.
Word choice: non-inclusiveness

We see another flawless score here. While Obama’s DNC speech certainly included aspects that not everyone agrees with, he didn’t use language that could be taken as discriminatory or profane — words that could unnecessarily alienate someone or make them feel left out just because they’re a particular sex, religion, etc.

You’ll notice that Yoodli uses feedback such as “Nice work!” and “Great job!” when you do well. Whether you’re giving your first speech or you’re as polished as Obama, it boosts your confidence when you receive affirming feedback.

Word choice: top keywords

If you didn’t watch Obama’s DNC speech, you could look at the Top Keywords and see that he talked mostly about “Joe.” Considering the occasion, he was right on theme.

Yoodli’s Top Keywords feature helps you know whether you talked about what you aimed to talk about. It could reveal that you talk about yourself a lot, which you might not realize. You’re not tracking your word count, but Yoodli is, and these insights bring important issues to the surface.

Word choice: weak words

Obama used weak words 11 times, which is only 1% of his speech. That’s excellent! The Yoodli AI speech coach identified five instances of so, three instances of just, two uses of actually, and one seriously.

Weak words are words that, if overused, could indicate a lack of confidence. Generally, they don’t add anything substantive and can detract from the message.

Delivery: eye contact

In the Delivery category, Obama’s DNC speech hit on all cylinders, just as he did in the Word Choice category. The first score is for eye contact. The Yoodli AI speech coach shows that he made eye contact 72% of the time. Obama did well to confidently address his audience.

When you make eye contact with your audience — even when it’s through a camera — they feel more connected to you. You come across as more confident. Connection and confidence contribute significantly to getting your message across effectively.

Delivery: pacing & pauses

Obama’s pace was 129 words per minute — a smidge below average. It’s a relaxed pace that incorporates several deliberate pauses that Obama injected, giving his audience time to digest what he said.

Some might interpret the pacing as lacking a sense of energy and urgency. Obama’s speech wasn’t fiery, but it was earnest.

Obama’s DNC speech: a delivery homerun

It’s been said that the masterful delivery of Obama’s acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention helped propel him toward electoral victory. It’s likely that this speech at the 2020 DNC contributed to Biden’s success in November.

Watch more of Obama’s speeches to keep learning from his delivery techniques. To discover how he learned the art of rhetoric, check out this article from writer and journalist Charlotte Higgins. Finally, practice your own public speaking skills at Yoodli for free, using the same AI speech coach that we used to analyze Obama’s DNC speech.

Even the most gifted orators benefit from practicing. Yoodli makes practicing fun and easy. Now’s a great time to start.