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Saturday, August 05, 2017

Trump's (only) communication skill

President Trump has poor language communication but he does well in one nonverbal area. When he speaks extemporaneously without the advantage of a teleprompter speech written by someone else, he can't complete sentences. He puts phrases together in which the subject is often missing or unclear because he has changed the subject from when he starts a sentence until he reaches the end of it.

Here's an example from Time's interview with Trump:

Scherer (the interviewer): "So you don't feel like Comey's testimony in any way takes away from the credibility of the tweets you put out, even with the quotes?"
Trump: "No, I have, look. I have articles saying it happened. But you have to take a look at what they, they just went out at a news conference."

The first phrase, "No, I have, look." doesn't make any sense and doesn't answer the question. In the second phrase: "I have articles saying it happened.," who knows what "it" is related to. In the third phrase, who in the world is "they" and what does "they just went out at a news conference" mean?

He jumps all over the place when he is speaking without a teleprompter, and makes me feel like I am listening to Dory in Finding Nemo

His vocabulary of adjectives and adverbs is very limited and he mostly uses "biggest," "greatest,"
"best ever," etc. And I don't think he has uttered a single quotable sentence since he took office. I know, "Make America Great Again." but that was a campaign slogan that someone else thought up.

But there is one area in which he surpasses Barack Obama, who was an elegant speaker with command of the English language and who had the ability to put coherent thoughts together, unlike our current president.

Trump always ends his sentences with his voice going down at the end.

If you want to make your point, and in speeches he is reading, there generally is a specific point, lower your voice at the end as if your sentence is walking down stairs. This technique literally gives weight to the words you are speaking.

Here is Trump - notice how his voice goes down at the end of each sentence:

He asks some questions, "Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia?" and then his voice goes up appropriately. But every sentence he utters goes firmly down at the end.

Barack Obama often raises his voice at the end of sentences, potentially detracting from the power of his words. This is a clip of his best speaking moments - notice how often, even in these powerfully uttered words, he does not go down at the end of his sentences. In the first clips, he makes sentences that go down at the end, but in the middle segment, his words often rise at the end of the sentence.


To Barack Obama's credit, his words were so well put together and so powerful, it often made no difference that his voice tone rose at the end of his sentences. He exuded sincerity and honesty, unlike our current president who speaks in a chameleon way - changing his words to accomplish his goal of selling himself.

In Obama's speech at Selma, you might notice that his voice stays up at the end of sentences. This happens so much in the clip that I wondered if it may also reflect his audience in Alabama which would probably have included many people in the southern gospel tradition where one's speech often rises at the end.

Generally if you want to speak and be heard, there are three main things one must have:

1. Words that are well put together into coherent sentences
2. Sincerity and passion
3. A delivery that expresses the power behind your words, which in most cases, means that your words go down at the end of your sentences.




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