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Measuring Trump as a speaker

Communication profs grade president's ways

By BECCA KENNELLY / VN STAFF WRITER
On March 28, 2017

President Trump has certainly seen his share of criticism in his speeches, but it is usually about what he says – not how he says it.

Good leaders must be good at communicating their message to the audience that they govern.

During the election, Trump was known for saying whatever came to his mind, which often got him in trouble.

This was unusual for most politicians.

They are usually coached on what to say, how to say it, what their body language should be, how they should react to scrutiny, etc.

Donald Trump’s campaign speeches came off to the public as not planned.

Although his speeches did not seem to be censored, he did not lake confidence while speaking.

What do Detroit Mercy communication professors think of his talents?

“He does a very poor job of answering questions,” said Joe Abisaid, assistant professor of communication studies. “You can tell that he feels very uncomfortable when he is being questioned on anything. It seems as though you can tell that most of his life he has never had to answer difficult questions and face scathing criticism like he does now.”

Before this election, Trump was not a politician and was not required to deliver speeches as he did along the campaign trail and into his presidency.

He has been a public figure for quite some time and has had his share of public speaking, but not in this same format.

Previous presidents and candidates for the presidency have had a certain type of way of communicating that comes off as more professional.

“His biggest strength as a communicator is that he uses Twitter to control messages,” says Abisaid. “It takes a lot of courage to do this since this has never been done before by a sitting president. He controls the message this way rather than have the media frame it. This also means that he speaks directly to people. But as you can see, he has also gotten himself into a lot of trouble through Twitter rants.”

His use of social media during his campaign and presidency has been admired by some and scrutinized.

Many think that it is his way of reaching out directly to his audience and that it helps him appear relatable

On the other hand, some people view it as childish and not what a typical president should do.

“With regards to President Trump’s use of nonverbal communication, there are two prominent types of gestures that he uses while speaking to a larger audience,” said Cynthia Langham, an associate professor who teaches speech, persuasion and related topics. “The first type of gesture is an ‘okay’ symbol/gesture (by making a circle with the index finger and the thumb). 

“This okay symbol appears to convey that everything will be okay and that we (the American people and our country) will be okay. The second type of gesture is the ‘clenched fist’ symbol/gesture. He appears to use this as a way to convey ‘solidarity, unity, strength and support.’ ” 

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