Visualising political speeches

Political speeches are notable mostly for their length, verbosity and vacuity. Few really stand out. While succinct and delivered with conviction, Barack Obama’s State of the Union address came across as thin on substance and there seemed little of the passion of his campaign speeches.

Nonetheless from a digital communications perspective it broke new ground. For one, the full text of his speech was released online in advance to the general public, bypassing the conventional cosy press corps embargo. It was also notable for the well-trailed stream of infographics, factoids, charts and photos posted to the White House website that illustrated and supported his rhetoric and made a somewhat run-of-the-mill speech easy to digest, share and reference.

Here’s the infographic in booklet form:

 

And here it is synchronised with a video of Obama’s delivery:

 

I can’t recall seeing this approach used before for political speeches but seeing it here makes the two appear natural bedfellows.

 

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