- “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.
In 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.
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
- His language is Simple – Short sentences. “Look at Paris”. 75% of his words are single syllable words.
- 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”
- 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
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