Trump just gave another speech so, it’s time to do this again. His latest speech in front of Congress got an unusual amount of positive media attention this time, so let’s look at what he did right and what he could still improve on.
The first thing that I think trump did right is that he stuck to his teleprompter instead of ad-libbing. As a public speaker it’s your job to know what are your main weaknesses, and one of Donald Trump’s weaknesses is that he often comes across as too aggressive or says things that get him in trouble later. So his ad lib style (while it may work for supporters) tends to polarize the people who dislike him. In this case it was a good decision to stick to the teleprompters and instead of employing his usual aggressive style doing something to unify the nation behind the speech. Of course this still doesn’t solve Donald Trump’s problems with teleprompter speeches, he still sounds like he’s reading a bedtime story at times.
The second thing that he did right was starting with the nod to black history month as well as the attacks in Kansas City. There had been a lot of criticism about Donald Trump and his seeming indifference towards these events and so it was important for him to start off the speech with that and signal that he does care about it.
The third thing that he did well in this speech was honoring Ryan Owens and leading applause that lasted for around 2 minutes. It was the single most powerful moment in his speech and it wasn’t because he was talking, it was because he was allowing everyone to take a moment and honor the legacy of Ryan Owens. The moment isn’t without controversy, however, as some people say it was merely a political play. But the same could be said for a lot of things that happen in these speeches. Taking a step back from that just for a second, was this an effective thing for him to do in the speech? Yes it was. It was a powerful moment for his supporters and for many people who don’t even support him. So from that perspective, from the perspective I’m coming from as a public speaker, I think it was an effective moment and it was something that he did right.
The fourth and final thing that I think Donald Trump did really well in the speech was addressing some bipartisan issues that even Democrats could get behind. If the point of the speech is to unify Congress to work together towards a common goal, then mentioning these bipartisan issues is really important.
There are also three factors that I think hurt Donald Trump’s speech, and the first one is he wasn’t very specific. For example if he’s talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare he needs to come up with some details and provide reasons to believe that he actually has a plan in place that will be better than Obamacare. Or, for example, when he talked about taxes, he should have some specifics that people can grab onto and say “hey he actually has a good plan”. I’m not saying he doesn’t have those things, I’m just saying it’s a matter of perception. Including the specific details in the speech would help Democrats and Republicans alike to get behind the plans that he’s setting forth.
Second, we need to remember that speeches do not come in vacuums. If you’re a public speaker and you get up to a stage, even if you’re not a public figure that people watch all the time, they will watch your actions leading up to getting on that stage and they will watch your actions after you leave the stage. What they see will influence their perception of what you do. In trump’s case he has a certain reputation behind him as well as a reputation that he continues to build with tweets or different things that he does after the speech. So if he wants to give a speech that’s going to be maximally effective in uniting the country he needs to surround it with context that also backs up what he said.
The third and final problem of the speech is that he still has not figured out the hand motions thing. [Clip from previous video illustrating hand motions].
Overall folks, I think Donald Trump is getting better as a public speaker and I look forward to seeing his future speeches and seeing if he continues in that direction or if this was just a one-time thing.