By Karen Campbell –
Over the 16 years I have been a member of Toastmaster International, I have had the privilege of both giving and evaluating speeches many times within our local club, at the contest level and in teaching public speaking classes. Though each speech has a specific purchase, I use a basic formula for evaluating every speech based on what I have learned from master speakers and always with the goal of giving positive feedback to the speaker as I encourage each to improve.
If I had been reviewing Donald Trump’s speech in Bloomington, Illinois as a Toastmaster, this is what I would have told him:
Donald, thank you for sharing your speech with us today! Your enthusiasm for your message is apparent and your self-confidence certainly draws everyone in, two must-haves for any credible speaker. That confidence gives you command presence and the use of your personal space and no notes, along with appropriate hand gestures, are the marks of a seasoned speaker.
Right from the opening remarks, you made your audience aware of your purpose: the speech was all about you and you wanted their votes! I especially liked your use of “props,” in this case the Hispanic immigrant you brought onto the platform. It gave credibility to your premise and conveyed warmth in a somewhat sterile atmosphere.
You also seemed to be very aware of your particular audience by referencing the many lost jobs and high tax rates Illinois citizens are experiencing as well as your announcement that you promote the use of Caterpillar tractors. All of these played well to this Central Illinois audience. Closing your presentation with a poem was also a nice touch.
As you spoke, your audience was very attentive and your rate of speaking made it very easy to understand you. I suggest you practice using vocal variety as you appear to be yelling at your audience. I also had a very difficult time discerning your main points as your thoughts were not presented in a clear, logical manner and key phrases were often repeated throughout the speech without context or explanation.
For example, in blanket statements you refer to groups as “hard-working” or “amazing.” Speaking logically and being careful not to sound patronizing shows respect for your audience. Better organization and planning would solve this problem.
I would encourage you to refer back to the Competent Communicator Project #2 “Organize Your Speech” for tips on how to effectively make those main points clear. I would also recommend Project #7 “Research Your Speech” as I was unable to hear any concrete statistics or proof of the facts you stated. Discerning listeners will demand this!
I would also encourage you to shorten your speaking time. An hour is quite long for most people, especially those standing. Ronald Reagan once said that, for the benefit of your audience, no speech should last longer than 20 minutes and he was right!
I wanted to mention that I was impressed with your improvement over past presentations. Cutting the foul language and vulgar references was great; keep working on your propensity for giving insults and I believe you will go far!
Karen Campbell is an author and Toastmaster International evaluator from Canton, Illinois.