The Results Are In! The Best and Worst Convention Speakers
August 12, 2016 by Bill Rosenthal

More than 60 of you have responded to our survey on the best and worst convention speakers. You can see the full results here. If you haven’t yet participated in the survey, and would like to, you can click here to take the survey

Of the six speakers in question…

…the majority of you consider Michelle Obama to be the best presenter. She got just about twice as many votes as the person in second place, Barack Obama. And you consider Donald Trump the worst presenter. He easily beat the second-worst, Melania Trump. (The names in the list above are linked to the videos of the speeches.) 

The exact questions in the survey were, “Political viewpoint aside, which person do you feel had the BEST presentation skills at the National Conventions?” and “Political viewpoint aside, which person do you feel had the WORST presentation skills at the National Conventions?” 

I asked you to judge the speakers on

  • Message
  • Projection
  • Voice tone and pitch
  • Posture and gestures
  • Demeanor 

The survey didn’t give you the opportunity to offer your reasons for responding the way you did, but this is a blog, and I can speculate. If you’d like to share any thoughts around the topic, please feel free to comment on this blog post below. 

Of course you voted Michelle Obama the best presenter! She was easily the most genuine of the six principal speakers. Her message was dramatic, heartfelt, and perfectly in tune with her voice and body language. It was also intensely personal, even while she was making a political point. She made brilliant use of her assets, both in message and delivery. And, best of all, her speech was brief. If you’re interested in public speaking, bookmark Michelle Obama’s speech. You will want to refer to it again and again.

At the other end of the spectrum, there was Donald Trump. He gave a speech that was, according to the Chicago Tribune, “a compendium of doomsday stats that fall apart upon close scrutiny. Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong.” His tone was fierce and his body language almost belligerent. His speech was also the longest of the six speeches under discussion. 

Trump’s constructions were sometimes so strained they sounded suspicious: “58 percent of African American youth are now not employed.” This sounds like an attempt to suggest that 58 percent of young African Americans are unemployed without actually saying it. He apparently didn’t want to actually say it because it’s not true. The unemployment rate among young African Americans is 28 percent, less than half what Trump suggests. But 28 percent is terrible already. Why did he feel the need to exaggerate a statistic that is already a national disgrace?

On the other hand, I want to point out the great strength of Trump’s speech. His message was utterly aligned with the needs of his audience, who frequently interrupted him with cheers and chants. He understands his audience perfectly, and that may be part of the reason he has no half-hearted supporters — except among the former leaders of the Republican party, whom he has largely sidelined.

Thank you for participating in the survey. It’s illuminating to know the opinions of those who prize communication skills. Check out the survey if you would like to see all the findings. And if you haven’t responded yet, cast your votes for the BEST and WORST. If the picture changes with more votes, I’ll discuss it here. And, again, if you’d like to share any thoughts around the survey or this blog post, please feel free to leave a comment below.