MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- "As the world focuses on the relationship between Russia and the United States, we need to understand the challenge -- not just from a political perspective, but from a communication perspective," says Anett Grant, President of Executive Speaking, Inc.
When you examine the openings and closings of Putin and Obama's speeches at the U.N. last month, three major differences stand out, according to Grant.
- Putin uses straightforward, intellectual language; Obama uses vivid and visual language.
- Putin focuses on large-scale institutions; Obama focuses on individuals and families.
- Putin makes little to no use of rhythm; Obama uses rhythm frequently.
Putin begins by talking about the conditions that lead to the creation of the United Nations -- in very straightforward, plain language:
"In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay solid foundations for the post-war world order."
Obama also begins with a historical overview, but one that is much more vivid and dramatic:
"Out of the ashes of the Second World War, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war…"
"This is a common difference between American and Russian speaking: Americans are more vivid and visual; Russians are more straightforward and unemotional," Grant says. The second difference between Obama and Putin's approaches is that Obama uses a far more personal voice, speaking frequently about families and individuals. Putin, on the other hand, has a much more impersonal voice that focuses on institutions.
To Grant, the most striking example of this comes in Obama's closing, where he asks us to think of "the Liberian doctor," "the Iranian shopkeeper," "the Americans who lowered the flag…" and "the families leaving everything they've known behind." Examples like these are absent from Putin's speech, as he maintains a structural focus on Russia and the U.N.
The third difference between Obama and Putin is in the amount of rhythm that they use. "Obama is known for using a lot of rhythm to add emotional power to his speeches, and this speech is a paramount example," Grant says, citing this example from his closing remarks:
"They can be made to fear; they can be taught to hate, but they can also respond to hope."
"This is just one of many examples where Obama uses rhythm," Grant says. "Putin, on the other hand, uses little to no rhythm at all."
The takeaway? "While there are differences in style, both President Obama and President Putin are seen as charismatic speakers in their own cultures," Grant says. "We need to recognize that these differences exist, so that we can move beyond them and start focusing on substance."
As CEO of Executive Speaking, Inc, Anett has coached leaders for the last 36 years, including leaders from 61 of the Fortune 100 companies. She is also columnist for Fast Company.
Call Anett at 612-338-5748, or email.
SOURCE Executive Speaking, Inc.