This article begins the “How Do They Talk” series. In it, I will analyze the speeches of politicians, businessmen and artists. Based on these, I will try to find the secret of good speeches. Donald Trump will be first. Some love him, others hate him. However, we cannot deny his ability to captivate an audience. As an experienced and successful salesman, he knows how to present himself. The next entry will be about Barack Obama.
The recording I mainly rely on in my analysis:
Donald Trump mainly uses three gestures: an open palm, one finger up, and an ok symbol made of a thumb and forefinger. Rather, the gestures mentioned can be classified as those of a strict teacher. He also keeps his hands wide on the podium, which can be interpreted as an attitude of dominance and self-confidence. He often tilts one part of his body and leans against it, which gives the impression of being more natural. As a right-handed person he starts gesticulating more to the right side of the body.
Looking through the prism of body language, you can see that Donald Trump is not one of those people who smile a lot. His speeches are accompanied by a rather serious face, although as the president advances in his tenure, he smiles with more frequency. His mouth is usually arranged in an inverted horseshoe, his eyebrows are pulled down and his eyes narrowed as if he was looking for threats from the environment. He boldly maintains eye contact, gazing at different sides of the audience, turning to both the left and right sides. Mostly he stands in one place, without moving his body and only uses one hand.
The former US president speaks in a loud voice. He is not afraid to emphasize words with volume and sometimes even shouts and from time to time you can even hear hoarseness in his voice.
The way of speaking
Donald Trump generally speaks in a very serious and distinctive way and frequently pauses and repeats words. He rambles a lot, which can make his speech difficult to follow. He also talks about what he does not talk about. What does it mean? Statements like: “I will not say that he has low energy, I will not say”. This way, he doesn’t come out as the bad guy;)
He speaks rather slowly, so his speeches can be a good basis for learning English. He often e-nun-ciates words-and-sen-ten-ces, for example, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body” (9’51) and “I will never ever let you down”. It sounds a bit like a teacher listing or teaching young children a difficult new word.
As an experienced salesperson, he often utilizes sales techniques. It is mainly based on pathos, national pride and the fight against some enemy. There is a lot of complaining in his speeches, but he does it in such a way that he engages people and stands on their side, using “we” instead of “me” or “you”. He often refers to a common enemy – from foreign capital to foreigners taking jobs. It works on a similar pattern in this regard as Hitler. The sense of injustice it invokes strengthens the motivation to fight the common enemy, and also polarizes the society. Trump can keep attention. He is a showman who speaks spontaneously and often shows that he does not read from the prompter, which could also be a well-thought-out strategy. At times, Trump speaks ambiguously and vaguely makes suggestions about certain topics and this forces the audience to infer their own conclusions. In addition, the speeches are structured in such a way that they resonate with “we”.
According to Hughes (2019), of all presidents, Trump uses the word God and expressions related to religion most frequently. For comparison, for every thousand words spoken, on average, Trump has 7.3 words, and Obama has 4.1. In the interpretation of Mohan (2019), she rates Trump’s rhetorical abilities very highly. On the basis of his speeches and activity in social media, she singled out the content of his success: identification with recipients, transparency, honorable flattery and clever reference to sensitive topics in politics.
Donald Trump leverages many rhetorical techniques that effectively influence the audience. On stage and during interviews, he is very confident and does not let himself be defeated. The way he speaks and the techniques used can be compared to the style of a preacher, an American charismatic pastor.
Soon there will be an article analyzing the opposite of Trump- Barack Obama, not only in terms of the political spectrum, but also the style of speech.
Hughes, C. (2019). The God Card: Strategic Employment of Religious Language in U.S. Presidential Discourse. International Journal of Communication, 13, s. 22.
Mohan, C. (2019). Donald Trump did a “very good” job: A rhetorical analysis of candidate Trump’s campaign speeches. Senior Honors Projects, s. 632.
Hi. Welcome to my blog 🙂 I work as a trainer and mentor for TEDx Warsaw speakers. I also help, among others, lawyers, vocalists, actors, lecturers and business people in preparation for their speeches in front of hundreds of people in the audience, as well as in conducting small meetings or presentations. For many years I worked on controlling the stage fright that kept me awake at night. I have always wondered how to manage the internal critic, not to worry about the opinion of others, and how to build a real sense of confidence on stage. Now I know the answer. Recently, I have given countless interviews, which made me aware of the importance of confidence in front of the camera. Having been involved in music since the age of 10, I know how stressful it can be to present to a wider audience. By combining my business and music experience, I can guide you through the process of changing direction towards your dreams. Based on my vast stage experience, I have gained the ability to provide adequate tools and methods of coaching that will support your development.