By Amine Bendriss
By Amine Bendriss
Morocco World News
Meknes, September 29, 2012
On the understanding that a state’s president has to be a public speaker who can influence his or her audience, I followed the 67th session of the General Assembly of UN with the hope that the newly elected presidents of some Arab and Muslim countries would separate themselves from the herd and deliver an enthusiastic speech that could influence their audience. Unfortunately, it was really disappointing for me as an audience member and as a follower of those leaders to see them reading for us, as if we were in a low-level reading and comprehension class. Isn’t it a shame to see the president of a big and influential country like Egypt reading from a piece of paper in a place like the UN assembly?
I personally found it a waste of time to watch some presidents whose only effort was to pick up a piece of paper and start unenthusiastically reading for an already-fed-up audience. Anyone following the events of this last assembly would come to one conclusion: in Arab and Muslim countries, we don’t have leaders; we have, unfortunately, only presidents. We have presidents, who instead of breaking the conventions of those boring leaders, find it easier to order their secretaries to write their speeches for them. Need proof? Let’s draw a comparison between the performance of the US president and the speeches of some Muslim countries’ presidents.
While listening to the speech of Morsi, I thought that I was in a session for reading and comprehension. First, instead of facing the audience with a charismatic performance, aimed at winning the audience, the only thing he did was to read in a disinterested manner. Second, he made no effort to keep eye contact with his audience. His attempts to raise his head from time to time failed because he had to read the text, taking into consideration that he didn’t master it. Third, if I closed my eyes and listened to his speech, I would imagine Mubarak, the ex-president of Egypt, reading the speech. That is to say, he supported everything the US supports. As a newly elected president, it would have been better if he made his attitude clearer as far as international affairs are concerned.
In 30 minutes, Barack Obama, took his audience on a trip that fluctuated between responsibility, understanding, and authority. While following him in this last assembly, I received chill bumps several times during his speech. Calm, collected, focused, authoritative, compassionate and displaying intense concern, President Obama flies on the wings of a leader who really seems to have mastered the ABCs of public speaking. He was totally aware that to be a president of big nation like the USA entails mastering everything, including how to influence you audience.
For instance, while he was speaking about the ambassador who was killed in Benghazi, he was compassionate. Blaming the killers, he showed an intense determination. In addition, he really didn’t stop moving his eyes from the left to the extreme right, up and down. He knew that to hold the audience’s attention, one should constantly keep eye contact.
In grosso modo, I would like to make it clear that my intention was not to judge the policies of these presidents or how they govern their people. Instead, it is a reading of their performances as public speakers, because I believe that to be a successful president, you should first master the ABCs of public speaking.