Adding personal anecdotes, a dash of Western culture and even a mention of a mojito to his policy speech in the United States yesterday, President Xi Jinping was trying to come across as an amicable, approachable leader, observers say. Xi, who was speaking to some 650 business executives and former US diplomat Henry Kissinger in Seattle, said Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea "left a deep impression" on him. "When I visited Cuba … I visited the pub Hemingway often went to and ordered his favourite drink - rum mixed with mint and ice," he said towards the end of his 35-minute speech. Prior to touching on thorny issues including cybersecurity and China's slowing economic growth, Xi started his speech with an anecdote from his days in the remote Liangjiahe village in Shaanxi province, highlighting how far the country had come in the past few decades. "[In the 1960s,] the villagers were so poor they could not afford meat for months," he said. "My dream then was to treat all villagers with a feast of meat." Observers said the president tried harder than his predecessors to connect with his American audience, but that not all his words hit the mark. "Most would probably agree his style of speech is much more personal … compared with those of former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao ," said University of Nevada political science professor Xiaoyu Pu. Steve Tsang, a senior fellow at the University of Nottingham's China Policy Institute, said: "[Hu and Jiang] came across as wooden … artificial and contrived." But Xi's words, though carefully crafted by his press relations team, did not necessarily reveal what he was really like as a person, said Beijing-based analyst Zhang Lifan. "It has become a tradition for Xi to list a number of authors and philosophers in his speeches overseas to show how well he knows their culture," Zhang said. Xi's speech featured a long list of famous US writers - Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Jack London and Hemingway. Read more: Full coverage of Xi Jinping's US trip "But if he had ever read their works, his thinking would not be anything like what we've seen," Zhang said. Tsang said Xi's public relations campaign would be much more effective if he allowed his wife Peng Liyuan to play a bigger role. "Imagine if they … let Peng Liyuan burst into some American [songs]." He added: "If you want to connect with the Americans, you should ask the Seattle government to make sure they don't close the highways and cause Seattle to get into a gridlock because you are visiting."