Donald Trump speech techniques–to some people, the words may seem like a contradiction in terms. Even among Trump supporters, few would argue that Trump was a beacon of eloquence. Even fewer would suggest that he was a better orator than his predecessor, President Obama.
But…I must admit, after reviewing Trump’s public speaking style at length, as a public speaking professional with twenty years of experience, I’m going to go against conventional wisdom here–Donald Trump has some *extremely* important public speaking skills that…brace yourself….far outshine President Obama.
Now, especially for Trump detractors, that may sound like blasphemy. After all, many considered Obama to be one of the most eloquent, polished speakers in recent memory.The particular strengths of some of what one might call the Donald Trump speech techniques, on the other hand, might not be as obvious at first glance.
However, few people that I’ve read on the subject seem to appreciate that the very fact that Obama’s speeches are so commonly described as “polished” and “eloquent” are, in many ways, a double-edged sword.
In Confucian thought, there is a lot of emphasis placed on “accidental excellence” or “effortless effort” — giving off the impression that your accomplishments almost happen by themselves, and that effort should never draw attention to itself. By contrast, the idea also suggests that when we see someone obviously trying to impress us, it can have the reverse effect–making them seem less trustworthy, less powerful, and less masterful in their craft.
Whatever Obama’s strengths at public speaking, few if any of his speeches ever came off as “off the cuff.” Most often, the speeches were so meticulously crafted, that even at their very best, there was always a twinge of artificialness to them.
Avoiding this, and achieving “effortless effort” in a presentation, is quite possibly one of the hardest skills to master. Napoleon Bonaparte was once quoted as saying “It takes me three weeks to prepare for an impromptu speech.” But for all of it’s difficulty–or perhaps, because of it–that image, of appearing to just give a powerful, emotional speech seemingly on the fly, is *extremely* powerful. Where an extremely well prepared, well delivered speech may be described by its listeners as “eloquent,” “brilliantly crafted,” or “an outstanding speech,” a speaker *that gives the appearance* of being spontaneous will often be described in terms like “speaking from the heart,” “telling it like it is,” or “being a straight shooter.”
Of course, it’s a little “Hollywood,” but it hammers one of the main ideas here–how a seemingly “spontaneous” speech can connect with an audience in a very different way than a “polished” speech.
In your own imagination, try to picture that scene if Broderick had instead given a soaring, eloquent, Obama like speech. Would the effect have been the same? Would have had been able to hit a raw nerve with his audience, the same way he was able to with plain speech, everyday language, and the appearance of speaking off the cuff?
Not even close.
With this in mind, let’s look at some Donald Trump speech techniques.