Getting Over Yourself

February 4, 2016

Trump vs. Cruz as speakers

Let’s remove the politics–if you can–and observe some points about speaking that can help you with your speaking.

Everyone seems to agree that

  • it’s Trump’s entertainment value that has caused the debate ratings to be so high
  • it’s general anger at our current “state of the union” that has attracted so much enthusiasm for Trump, Cruz, and Sanders, and that
  • misstatements, incorrect facts, or showy rhetoric haven’t caused their supporters to defect.

So, I’m only going to look at speaking style and attitude as you hone your skills in assessing why you like or don’t like any particular speaker.

Donald Trump is blustery in a childlike (sometimes childish) way. Sometimes he’s kind of like that inappropriate 4-year-old that everyone finds endearing while also recognizing the inappropriateness. Sometimes he’s like a teenager who just keeps getting louder to cover up mistakes, or who attacks by attributing his own behavior to someone else.

He makes those who he considers his audience feel included “it’s you and me.” [I would suggest that you avoid the phrase you uses so often, some version of “let me be honest with you.”]

On the other hand, Ted Cruz manages to feel like the parent to Trumps child. His words say that we’re all in this together, but his demeanor is more disapproving–of most things–even when he’s speaking positively. Where Trump seems to be spontaneous and enjoying the process and himself, Cruz seems rehearsed and careful.

Perhaps he is harking back to his debate training, but his jokes feel planned and barbed. (Ben Carson has had a few planned jokes, but his consistently flat delivery and delight in his point seem to make them actually feel funny.) You have many times heard me hold forth on the importance of pauses. But even here the his voice inflection and attitude make those pauses border on scary rather than encouraging.

One thing they have in common: they both make it sound like “it’s my way or the highway.” I can’t counsel you on how that will turn out for them, only that I don’t recommend that as a strategy in your speaking.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio are both more welcoming in their demeanor. They’re more in the mode of inviting others to listen to the voice of reason without so much of the “I’ve got an axe to grind” tone in their voices. There’s more of a feeling that “this is what I believe and you get to make up your own mind.” And there’s no question, they do believe it.

Who knows how it will end? But I encourage to use all these political presentations as part of your speaking education. I would not encourage you to try to emulate anyone. But you can look for the principles that are or aren’t working in terms of speaking and work to incorporate the principles. If you can separate yourself from your own political views in the process.

For more: http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

August 29, 2012

So, what did you think of Ann Romney and Chris Christie last night?

You’ve probably noticed the speakers get more polished (those with more experience) as the evening goes on.

What did you think of Ann Romney’s speech? Of Chris Christie’s?

It’s not too late you can watch all of them from last night, or just skip though and watch parts of it. PBS has it at http://video.pbs.org/video/2273864818

I’d like to hear what you notice about the speakers.

I like seeing how they deal with thunderous applause while waiting to speak.

Governor Scott Walker just started talking right over the applause.

Rick Santorum while quietly waiting for the applause to die down kept repeating “thank you” at reasonable intervals.

Ann Romney just waited quietly as she beamed at the audience.

And how did you like seeing Ted Cruz (Senatorial candidate from Texas) speaking without a lectern–the only one who did that? Did his cowboy boots make a statement to you? If so, what?

You can also notice an interesting range of passion and how it affects the message.

Ann Romney’s passion was evident and not combative or gooey. Her timing was great. She spoke at a pretty good clip that wasn’t asking for sympathy and wasn’t milking her points. Yet she spoke two lines in a measured way, with complete conviction, good pauses and good body language. It was almost as though there were periods between the words. “This. Man. Will. Not. Fail.” and “You. Can. Trust. Mitt.” Her focus, her body language, the pauses, made those simple sentences electrifying.

Governor Christie’s passion is much more emotionally delivered plus he doesn’t display the carefulness many speakers of the evening had which tends to sweep the audience along. Later you may rethink what you heard, but he makes it easy to get caught in his rhythms.

In spite of the passion, he doesn’t sound angry. Committed to his ideas and his party, yes. Personally angry, no.

Contrast that with the between-speech interviews with Governor of Puerto Rico Luis Fortuna and Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad. Governor Fortuna spoke thoughtfully and with conviction. Governor Branstad was obviously passionate but angry. It felt personal. And he wasn’t going to let anyone get in his way to grind in his point.

These are good opportunities to observe other people’s approaches to speaking and use what you see to tweak your own speaking.

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