If you believe in neuro-linguistic programming, Obama’s formal presentation often uses what I believe NLP calls hypnotic speech. It sounds wonderfully uplifting while you are listening, but when you get done, you scratch your head, because there was so much abstraction and imagery relative to content that very little of substance is said. Despite its creepy sounding name in the NLP lexicon, it’s common in political speeches. The audience is left with a favorable impression of the speaker but not much in the way of concrete ideas that it can recall, which is perfect for campaigners who studiously want to avoid making promises. Hypnotic speech is good for creating a positive image, not good at all for conveying content of any complexity.
President Obama is not unique in this approach to speaking – he’s just better than most.