US State of Union Address Speechwriter

24 replies
I'm sure I'm not alone, but I'm fascinated with all sorts of writing.

Tonight, President Obama will be delivering his State the Union Address. It's pretty important because it sets the agenda for the upcoming year.

Here's who the President relies on to craft his speeches:

Jon Favreau (speechwriter) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To hear Jon talk, it's more of a back and forth collaboration between him and the President. But it's obvious the President relies on Jon tremendously.

- Rick Duris

PS: Jon is also the second youngest person to hold the position, which is extremely admirable.

PPS: What's really interesting is the Whitehouse has deliberately released the speech to news organizations ahead of time. Pundits and reporters have been quoting it ahead of time. In our vernacular: "Pre-launch?"
#address #speechwriter #state #union
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Rogers
    Politics aside, I've been admiring this guy's work for a while. I'm probably delusional, but it seems like an exciting gig. (and hardly any pressure!)

    I didn't see the story on the Wiki page, but I remember reading (I wanna say in RS) where he and Obama met after Favreau overheard him rehearsing his 2004 DNC keynote backstage and corrected a clunky line in the speech.

    The rest they say...
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
    Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

    Here's who the President relies on to craft his speeches:

    PPS: What's really interesting is the Whitehouse has deliberately released the speech to news organizations ahead of time. Pundits and reporters have been quoting it ahead of time. In our vernacular: "Pre-launch?"
    Yeah, the kid does alright. Then again, he sucks. Just depends on the speech. It's easier to write blind copy (pre-election) than to try and pump up a POS product (post election). We all know that.

    As for the prelaunch, it'd be interesting if they haven't been doing it for the last 30-40 years.
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  • Profile picture of the author ScoTech
    I thought the speech was way too long, and akward at moments. Seemed to be several tines there was a pause for applause built into the speech, but the applause didn't come...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jag82
    I've always been impressed by Obama's speeches.

    His messages are usually strong and clear.

    If you watch many of Obama's pre-election campaign speeches,
    they are very persuasive and impactful.

    And it helps that Obama is an excellent orator.

    Jon Favreau is clearly a very talented speechwriter
    and one I admire.

    - Jag
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    • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
      Originally Posted by Jag82 View Post

      And Obama's delivery style amplifies the impact.
      So if I understand you, you're saying he reads well?
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      • Profile picture of the author Jag82
        Originally Posted by Bruce Wedding View Post

        So if I understand you, you're saying he reads well?
        More than that.

        I'm saying that Obama has excellent oratory skills.
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        • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
          Originally Posted by Jag82 View Post

          More than that.

          I'm saying that Obama has excellent oratory skills.
          Ok... You sure?

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          • Profile picture of the author Jag82
            Originally Posted by Bruce Wedding View Post


            I just watched the video. Damn...it's funny.

            But Bruce, I think you can cut Obama some slack.

            Everyone F up once in a while. C'mon....

            But lets give credit where credit is due.

            If you watch many of his speeches, you just have
            to take a look at the crowd's reaction to him to know
            the kind of impact he can make on them - just by virtue
            of his oratory prowess.

            Major media like Times, BBC and USA Today all
            agree that Obama is a gifted orator.

            And he is.

            Of course, you can't please everyone.

            This is after all...politics.

            - Jag
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        • Profile picture of the author Generic SEO Guy
          Originally Posted by Jag82 View Post

          More than that.

          I'm saying that Obama has excellent oratory skills.
          Indeed. Did you catch his responses to GOP questions at their conference in MD about a year ago exactly? I seems I need to have posted more to be able to post actual links, so here is the URL.

          youtube.com/watch?v=w1-jasxb7NY
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          • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
            Originally Posted by Generic SEO Guy View Post

            Indeed. Did you catch his responses to GOP questions at their conference in MD about a year ago exactly? I seems I need to have posted more to be able to post actual links, so here is the URL.

            youtube.com/watch?v=w1-jasxb7NY
            As a former card-carrying and award-winning member of Toastmasters, surely you're joking? If he gave that speech at a competition, he would not make the first cut. I've counted about 15 "ahs" and stutters in the first 5 minutes. And he spends more time looking at his notes than he does his audience.
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            • Profile picture of the author Generic SEO Guy
              Originally Posted by Bruce Wedding View Post

              As a former card-carrying and award-winning member of Toastmasters, surely you're joking? If he gave that speech at a competition, he would not make the first cut. I've counted about 15 "ahs" and stutters in the first 5 minutes. And he spends more time looking at his notes than he does his audience.
              I see what you're saying. But I was referring to his responses to challenges by the GOP members. I suppose this would be more of a compliment to his debate, not his oratory skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I lost count how many times he mentioned South Korea. :confused:

    All I can say is, he is great at quotes, every single speech is a quote! :rolleyes:

    Stop looking back at history & move forward, what's done is done!
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  • Profile picture of the author Tajine
    I turned the telly on today (Australia Day) and within minutes on came President Obama live. I actually had no previous idea he was delivering his state of the union speech right then!

    I must say that I am extremely impressed with his oratory skills and noticed (or didn't) he kept speaking without even taking a sip of water the whole time! Quite an achievement.

    Top marks to his speechwriter. However, I've got to mention that perhaps the only flaw that I perceived was an apparent lack of clarity regarding the issue of illegal immigrant's children who were gaining outstanding results in the education system.

    On the one hand Obama (or Jon) acknowledged their value & wanted them to be retained as an asset to the country but at the same time derided the presence of their illegal families and seeks to put an end to their occupation.

    I just didn't think that the wording was correct but hey, that's just my opinion.

    Obama; "A mighty fine example of an exemplary rhetorician"
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    A few inspiring speechwriters:

    1) Ted Sorenson, JFK's speechwriter:

    Ted Sorensen, speechwriter for JFK, dead at age 82

    (Notice the overlap between Jon Favreau's speechwriting collaboration strategy and Ted Sorenson's.)

    2) Roger Ailes was George Bush's (the first) speechwriter is now founder and CEO of Fox.

    3) Did you know Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, was also FDR's speechwriter? Much of FDR's fireside chats came from Napoleon. Napoleon is also the man who coined "We have nothing to fear, except fear itself." He wrote Think and Grow Rich while in the basement of the Whitehouse along with five other books. His Whitehouse salary? $1/year.

    My opinion? These folks are all brilliant in their own ways.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: After watching the State of the Union Address, I'm with you, Bruce. The speech wasn't concert pitch, they could of done better last night.

    Especially the last minute or so. I don't know what happened, but it fell apart at the end. It unraveled.

    Here's the speech:

    2011 State of the Union Address - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I'm not criticizing, it still was a really good speech. One worth dissecting and modeling.

    All I'm saying is it was good, but it could have been great--at a time when the US needs direction from the leader.

    How would I have remedied it? At the end of the speech, I would have encouraged a compelling, memorable call to action for the American people.

    (FYI: I am apolitical. I have no affiliation or affection one way or the other. I just admire when important people say stuff in cool ways. For instance, when the President said the Democratic party "got a shellacking" back in November is still echoing.)
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  • Profile picture of the author ProfWriter
    I think this job would be way too stressful. Favreau has to say what Obama would say better than Obama would say it. Surely though, putting the words in the president's mouth would be a power trip-- I'd always be trying to slide my own politics in there.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanjm
    ^That's pretty funny. But if that's supposed to be evidence that he doesn't speak well, it's unconvincing in the face of literally thousands of hours of nearly flawless execution that goes against that. You have to remember, this isn't a job where you sleep 9 hours every night and go to the office, then have an occasional presentation to your boss once a month that you can prepare for 2 weeks ahead of time. He literally gives a speech multiple times per week. How much prep time do you think he has for each of these?

    I know I'm terrible if I can't prepare for a speech, but pretty damn good if I can. If I was relying on written notes of a hastily prepared speech and then somehow those notes disappeared mid-speech, that would throw me off pretty darn hard.

    So, back on topic, that speech-writer has a pretty impressive resume, and Obama is one of the best at delivering those speeches in a long time.
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    It was a B+ delivery of an average speech.

    "We do big things," could have lead into a call to action at the end. Instead it was just a nice anecdote and some cheer leading.

    Sputnik moment? Is that really going to resonate emotionally with anybody under sixty? Favreau should be able to do better.

    I know they always release the speech to the media several hours beforehand, but I think it has been embargoed in the past.

    Also, does anybody remember seeing the audience reading and following along before. Might be one reason the room seemed emotionally flat.
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  • Profile picture of the author AnneE
    Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

    I'm sure I'm not alone, but I'm fascinated with all sorts of writing.

    Tonight, President Obama will be delivering his State the Union Address. It's pretty important because it sets the agenda for the upcoming year.

    Here's who the President relies on to craft his speeches:

    Jon Favreau (speechwriter) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    To hear Jon talk, it's more of a back and forth collaboration between him and the President. But it's obvious the President relies on Jon tremendously.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: Jon is also the second youngest person to hold the position, which is extremely admirable.

    PPS: What's really interesting is the Whitehouse has deliberately released the speech to news organizations ahead of time. Pundits and reporters have been quoting it ahead of time. In our vernacular: "Pre-launch?"
    Clearly you can successfully Outsource and don't have to run the whole show by yourself!!
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  • Profile picture of the author RBozemanAM
    Obama's speech giving skills are pretty much unrivaled in modern politics in my opinion. Of course, I'll refrain from handing out my opinion on his politics.

    When you said Jon Favreau, at first I thought it was going to be the Ironman director/actor, which wouldhave really been impressive.

    But yes, the State of the Union, I thought, was really well written from a speaking standpoint.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    Political speech writers are some of the best copwriters out there. They're selling ideas to entire nations of people and appealing to a huge, broad and very skeptical market. Nice
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

    I'm sure I'm not alone, but I'm fascinated with all sorts of writing.
    Check out Keith Morrison on Dateline. The intros he writes for his segments are golden... unlike anything else I've seen or heard on commercial TV.

    Alex
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