Donald Trump Could Have Used More Vocal Variety – a Reflection about his Speaking Voice


Crescendo, abbreviated cresc., translates as “growing”, and diminuendo, abbreviated dim., or decrescendo, abbreviated to decresc., mean “gradually becoming softer”.
From Wikipedia

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Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump, during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump, during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It seems to be a unanimous evaluation – Donald Trump was loud on Thursday night; maybe too loud; maybe too loud in almost every sentence.

This is not a post about his politics – but about Mr. trump as a speaker.

The best tweet I read for the night was from John Murphy (@MurphyOA):

No understanding of crescendo and decrescendo. Barely any variation.

When I teach Speech and Presentation Skills, I put it in this simple formula:

Always speak with vocal variety and verbal punch. Never speak in a monotone!

This idea of vocal variety requires some real practice and skill development. You have to get louder at times, softer at times, quieter at times… But, as a speaker, even as you get softer and quieter, you still need to be loud enough to be heard.

But – and this is important – you should not sound “exactly the same the whole speech.” There’s got to be tone, volume, pace variety.

In Trump’s acceptance speech last night, he seemed to have one dominant voice. And it was Loud! He did not speak with enough vocal variety. And this seems to be a universal evaluation.

Maybe if provides a great lesson for all of us who speak in front of others. Pull out your iPhone the next time you speak, have someone record your presentation on your own phone (so that you have it fully accessible), watch and critique yourself, and especially listen to your voice. Do you speak with vocal variety? If not, you’ve got your next speaking skill to work on.

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