My favorite public speakers are Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Not because they were the President and First Lady of the United States, but because they speak so well. I am inspired by good writing and the flow of words, especially when those words can be delivered as a powerful spoken message. As someone who is focused on becoming a good writer and speaker—my most valuable lessons come from listening to great speakers. Though there are many, many writers and speakers I applaud, Barack and Michelle are my favorite two.
As with many people, the Covid 19 pandemic has put on hold the things we did so regularly—and maybe took for granted. While sheltering-in-place, I thought it would be easy to do something as simple as write, just putting words on paper; it is not. The devastation surrounding the pandemic made it very hard to find a clear space in my head to formulate positive ideas. The more I tried to write positive blog posts, the more the tragedy of the pandemic, the senseless killings of Blacks, and the depressing political noise clouded my creativity. Rightfully so, because it is very hard to focus on the positive when so much destruction appears to be mounting.
As I have learned over the years, it is up to each of us to find a way to move forward from where we are. Michelle Obama mentions in her book that ownership is an important part of resolving problems–small or large. In other words, being honest about which of your actions are part of the problem. Remember, the “calvary” is not going to come directly to you. So while you’re waiting, dig deep within yourself to find your survival tools. For me, it means thinking back and remembering how my mom always continued to move forward. She didn’t waste time dwelling on what stopped her, but kept using what was on-hand to bring our family through the storm or out of the valley.
After I experienced Michelle Obama’s audiobook “Becoming”, I was truly inspired; she was raised on the south side of Chicago, not far from the area where I grew up. She highlighted how important it was to have the boundaries that her family instituted. But within those boundaries, she and her brother were encouraged to express themselves. She emphasizes how that aspect of her upbringing helped her a lot in her adult life. I believe that may be the reason she is able create powerful written words, and deliver them orally in such a captivating and eloquent manner.
Barack Obama is not only a dynamic speaker; he, like Michelle is able to captivate his audience regardless of the subject. Each time I listen to one of them speak, I am inspired to write something or create a new blog post. I am able to improve how my writing flows by listening to speakers who I truly admire.
I consider Michelle and Barack Obama’s speaking platform my personal tool for overcoming writer’s block. And I must admit, I am a little starstruck by them.
This is a unique time in our history, so find your inspiration, get inspired and start writing your stories!
The following is a quote from Sarah Hurwitz, Michelle Obama’s former speechwriter, (found in an article from People.com):
“The job of being her speechwriter is really to ask her, ‘What do you want to say?’ And then I type as quickly as possible what she says.”