Are President Obama's Speeches Just ... Tweets?

Did you realize that 71% of President Barack Obama's recent defense policy speech at the National Defense University was given in compact sentences ripe for tweeting? 

Yahoo! News did, and they say this is nothing new.

In fact, at least half of the content analyzed in more than 50 "major speeches" given by President Obama was "tweetable' according to metrics used to conduct the study.  This means that at least half of the sentences in these speeches were less than 140 characters, with many less than the 120 necessary for "maximum retweetability."

This begs the question of whether or not White House speech writers are intentionally crafting speeches to facilitate their entry into the micro-blogosphere, or if this is just mere coincidence.

Despite a wealth of quantitative evidence to suggest that Obama's writing staff is Twitter-happy, it can be easily argued that cities like Washington, D.C., and other political nerve centers around the world, have always been fueled by sound bites geared toward audiences with little time to absorb complicated policy rhetoric.

Speechwriting itself is an industry built on the foundation of using a string of concise, but powerful statements to compose a clear picture for a broader community.

Either way, more people are consuming what President Obama and other senior decision-makers are saying live or on Twitter.

This is a positive trend anyway you spin it. 

For the millennial generation, "Tweetable" policy speeches have the potential to provide a wealth of insight and create political awareness among young adults not otherwise seen in parts of America and the world removed from either politics or modern technology. 

For older generations, punchy rhetoric among government talking-heads is nothing new, but the fact that it can be expressed seamlessly and instantaneously on such a grand scale is as novel as it gets.

For President Obama and his staff, leaving a large digital footprint on Twitter and other social media vehicles is something they work hard every hour of every day to accomplish.  The resulting reactions are not always in their favor. However, by producing content, they are involving the public directly and pushing important messages to all corners of the web.

Intentional or not, President Obama's speeches are likely to maintain "Tweetability" (and so are the speeches of his colleagues and opponents) and the American public, young and old, is generally more informed because of it.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Brian Principato

Brian works as the Director of Communications for an international business advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. He recently finished his Masters in International Trade & Security Policy at George Mason University.

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