On September 26th, America endured the first U.S. Presidential debate.  There are many Public Speaking tips from the Trump and Clinton debate you can learn and apply to your own speaking.  Don’t expect me to weigh in on fact checkers orPublic Speaking Tips from the Trump and Clinton Debate who won or who leads or who is a liar/narcissist/idiot. I do not discuss politics in public forums (and wish my Facebook friends would take the same vow of silence).

Public Speaking Tips from the Trump and Clinton Debate. A speech coach’s observations.

  • Repeated phrases are easy to let crop up. Ideally, a speaker would find synonyms to avoid such repetition. Both candidates have some go-tos.

o Clinton: …fair…, trumped up, we need to look at/we should talk about…,
o Trump: we have to…, disaster, now look…

  • Non-words usually indicate thinking, and come across as tentative. Breathe and think. Then speak.

o Clinton was exceptionally polished and direct, except… when she addressed (or attacked) Mr. Trump directly. Then they started every sentence. “Uh, Donald, it’s good to be with you.” “Uh, my opponent…”
o Trump has lots of non-words. So, um, and the non-verbal snort that many are criticizing.

  • Facial expressions are telling. They convey emotion. Both candidates could use some practice with a simple smile.
  • Eye contact (see above) does more to enhance a speaker than any other skill. Neither candidate proved they were adept at it. Clinton flits; Trump scowls. Both should have used the camera to drive home key points and failed.
  • I guess it’s normal in politics, but the non-specific claims got tiresome for me as a speech coach. They both used phrases like independent experts, semi-exact, almost every time, any/none/all. Thrown out with no regard for how the listener would envision them. As a result, their claims were often too generic.  The specific is always more powerful than the generic.
  • The power of a story – both candidates tried to use stories and the connection to the common man. Neither did a fantastic job in that regard. Clinton opened with hers and then seemed to forget the technique. Trump discovered it mid-stream, but lacked enough detail to really connect.

Finally, when the stakes are high, skills trump (pun intended) intent. It’s amazing to me that our candidates are not more polished speakers with simple skills that are easily attainable (like in our public workshops!).

Communication matters.  What are you saying?

This article was published in the October 2016 edition of our monthly speaking tips email, Communication Matters. Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month. Sign up today and receive our FREE download, “Twelve Tips that will Save You from Making a Bad Presentation.”  You can unsubscribe at any time.

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