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Did President Biden just pull a Terminator?

If there were an Oscar for the most emotionally impactful speech, there’s little doubt that Arnold Schwarzenegger would win this year’s award. His viral video message to the Russian people on March 17, 2022, sought to dispel the Kremlin's misinformation about the Ukraine invasion. It is possibly one of his life’s best performances.

But then came President Biden's forceful remarks Saturday from Poland, reiterating the United States and its allies' support for Ukraine. Did President Biden just snatch the hypothetical "Most Emotional Speech" Oscar from the Terminator's hands.

All of us are in the midst of a daily information battle. We are bombarded with ads, social media posts, TV news and podcasts. Companies are trying to sell us their sneakers or vacation packages, politicians their latest policy agendas. And everyone is trying to increase the decibel to drown out the competition.

But the biggest information war is happening on the world stage right in front of our eyes and ears.

And the stakes are nothing less than the future of the world as we know it.

Human history is to a large extent the history of conflicts and wars. But never before have we been involved in two epic interconnected battles at the same time - the battle on the ground and the battle in the cloud. Information warfare has been a part of every war, and every society for that matter, but the reach, speed and impact of online conversations in today's world is unprecedented.

And let there be no mistake - information warfare kills people. It kills people because it creates justification and public support to suppress one's own population and attack one's neighbors.

And while Russia is invading Ukraine, the West's other adversaries are already in full information warfare. Narratives are being created daily, from China and North Korea to Iran and Syria.

It is our responsibility to counteract their narratives before they transition into physical war.

That's where President Biden's speech and Arnold Schwarzenegger's video post come in. They are prime examples of how we structure our communication for maximum impact. The two speeches aren't just effective because Schwarzenegger is an international movie icon and President Biden is, well, the leader of the Free World, but because they evoke strong emotional responses. An emotional trigger does not guarantee that a post will go viral, but it is absolutely a prerequisite. It is essential.

We ran President Biden and Schwarzenegger's transcripts through Cognovi's Communicator and measured the emotions sentence by sentence. The results are startling. Both the President and Schwarzenegger lead their listeners through a full emotional journey with highs and lows and everything in between.

They expertly capture the human psyche with all its competing impulses to act, and they are ultimately able to generate an Intent score in the high 70's out of 100 - scores rarely observed in speeches.

Why is this important for our National Security? Because of the number 7.1!

Research widely reported in Forbes shows that customers who emotionally engage with a company purchase 7.1 times more of its products. This is true for apparel, but it is similarly true for ideas. And information warfare is all about whose ideas will gain the upper hand - and who will get there first.

If we want to reduce the possibility of physical war, we first need to win the information war. If we want democracies to outlive totalitarian regimes, we first need to win the information war. If we want freedom and peace, we first need to win the information war.

In other words, we need to win hearts and minds. Fortunately, hearts are spoken to and minds are persuaded with emotions. That's why the single most potent tool in our arsenal is the one that engages emotionally.

Let's take the lead from President Biden and the Terminator. The future of the world as we know it is on the line.


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