How Donald Trump Speaks

  • “How stupid are our leaders?”
  • “How stupid are they?”
  • “I’m really rich”
  • “Politicians are all talk, no action”
  • “huge,” “terrible,” “beautiful.”

Any guesses which political leader made these statements?

“he prefers simple language” Jon Favreau, Obama speechwriter

How Donald Trump Speaks

Donald Trump dominates a specific type of rhetoric. His speaking is radically different to every other political candidate in the USA.

21language_graphic_web-1547In the graphic to the left, researchers passed the speeches of all the US political candidates through the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, an analysis that tells us what level of school you need to understand the speaker.

Bernie Sanders speaks at a high school level.

Hilary speaks at junior high level.

Where’s Donald?

Donald Trump speaks at a 4th grade level.  He speaks directly and simply.

Read the full review of the Flesch-Kincaid analysis over at the Boston Globe: For presidential hopefuls, simpler language resonates: Trump tops GOP field while talking to voters at fourth-grade level

 

Speak in simple words

What does Donald do?  There are 3 key things:  Simplicity, Dialogue, Repetition

  1. His language is Simple – Short sentences.  “Look at Paris”.  75% of his words are single syllable words.
  2. He uses Dialogue – “lots of people” call me and tell me “thank you Donald, you said what needs to be said”  “They say Trump has a point”
  3. He uses Repetition – “Make America Great Again”, “Problem, problem, problem”.  The power of repetition is that we start to believe something is true if we hear it repeated enough time.

Focus on The Audience

What allows him to do this is that he is always speaking about the audience’s problems.  He never talks about how difficult it can be, he never goes into details about how…  he brings it back time and time again to “Problems, problems, problems.”

Donald Trump follows in a long line of US Presidents that radically altered the nature of effective political communication.  Abraham Lincoln made the radical communication step of using newspapers to share his message.  Dwight D Eisenhower made the radical communication step of using radio to speak directly to people in their homes, in his fireside chats.  JFK used television more powerfully than any other politician.

How Donald Trump Answers a Question

The Nerdwriter episode on “How Donald Trump Answers a Question” is a brilliant analysis of one specific answer that Trump gave to Jimmy Kimmel.  If you are reading this via email, check out the video here: How Donald Trump Answers A Question

How Simple can we Go?

“A leaders’ job isn’t to educate the public — it’s to inspire and persuade them, That requires meeting people where they are, and speaking in words that are easily accessible to the broadest possible audience. Perhaps the most powerful, inspirational political phrase of the last decade or so involved three of the simplest words in the English language: yes we can.’’Jon Favreau, Obama’s speechwriter

“At some point enough is enough, If you continue drawing these lines, you’re going to hit comic strip levels. . . . There are real costs to oversimplification.” Elvin T. Lim, professor at Wesleyan University

and… to finish…  why Donald tweets

If you are reading this via email, check out the video here: How and Why Donald Trump Tweets

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. I believe he has a particular way of communicating as you well describe. The concerning part is that this connects with the citizens not just due to how he says it, but also how that directly reflects how they feel at the moment. Somehow he’s got the logos, pathos, and ethos for those who voted him. As Gandhi said once, if a leader is morally corrupted it is simply the reflection of those who elected him. Our world is a blueprint of the level of collective consciousness.

    Like

  2. Hi Conor,
    Simplicity. Dialogue. Repetition.
    I’ll keep these points in mind when communicating messages on social media or TV.
    I thought of your point about Donald’s simplistic speaking style while listening to an interview with Simon Sinek. He mentions that people tend to watch versus listen to TV.
    In case you haven’t heard Simon’s interview -this leads to a quick segment.

    Like

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