The Speaker: Amaechi, Obama and Twitter

THE final is tonight – as Barack Obama marks his 100th day in office.

No-one can accuse judge John Amaechi of failing to promote The Speaker.

He was on BBC Breakfast again this morning, along with the three finalists.

The search to find Britain’s best young speaker sees the trio travel to Malawi to investigate and research different aspects of children’s rights.

Followed by the already recorded finale in London.

I interviewed John earlier this month for a MEN feature here.

As ever, hard copy space restrictions meant part of our chat had to be left out.

He also told me that the final proved to be an “amazing” event.

“What they got was an experience that, for the finalists, I think was formative.”

All three would appear to have bright futures.

President Obama is just one recent example of the power of words to change the world.

I asked John what makes Obama such a good public speaker.

“Frankly what makes him good is that when he speaks in front of an audience, determined psychology is present,” he replied.

“So it’s not as if he could be giving this speech that you’re witnessing in front of a different crowd in your head.

“It’s not as if he could be delivering it in front of a camera.

“When he speaks, the perception is that he’s talking directly to you and that your problems are his concern, your thoughts and ideas are valuable to him and you as an individual are respected.

“And there aren’t many speakers, especially of his status, who when they stand in front of you, you feel as if you could almost have a conversation with them afterwards.”

Knowing that John is a keen user of Twitter, I asked him if the increasing use of social networking sites on the web means we are in danger of losing the art of talking to each other face-to-face?

“I don’t think it’s as simple as that,” he said.

“I think we all like to narrow down life into bite-size chunks and it’s easier if we can just say, ‘It’s Twitter’s fault, it’s the fault of computer games that we don’t communicate.’

“But these different ways of communicating are an art form in themselves.

“What I’m concerned with is making sure that people who Twitter, as I do, and people who use these abbrieviated forms of communication, can also branch out and still maintain these more traditional types of communication.

“It’s all very well being able to do 140 characters in a pithy and witty way.

“But what I’m concerned is that they can do that – especially when you’re talking about young people – and then when they’re required to communicate their experience, their lives and their talents and skills to someone who might hire them, they can also do that.

“There’s a lot of research out there that talks about the improved chances of advancement of all people, not just young people, if they have improved soft skills.

“And I think part of the soft skills is the ability for you to transmit your thoughts and feelings and emotions and skills and abilities in a way that the maximum number of people can understand it.

“That kind of eloquence when you express yourself really pays off in tangible ways.”

*The Speaker Final is on BBC2 at 8pm tonight.

The Speaker: John Amaechi

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