In a 2008 interview, Theodore C. Sorensen, one of John F. Kennedy's speechwriters, compared the individual appeal of Bill and Hillary Clinton and the distinct styles of two great speakers of the classical period, Cicero and Demosthenes. Sorensen recalled how it was once said that when Cicero spoke, the crowds declared, "How well he spoke," but when Demosthenes spoke, the crowds exclaimed, "Let us march!" think it applies here," Mr. Sorensen added, "Bill being the one for whom they say, 'Let us march!' "I think Bill Clinton delivers inspiring addresses. Hillary is more likely to deliver learned lectures."
However, Bill Clinton was not always known for his impeccable speaking skills. At the 1988 Democratic National Convention, he gave a speech that Hernandez described as "rambling." However, with the help of speechwriters and public communications experts, Clinton has learned to use notes and key points in combination with his unpredictable anecdotes and thoughts.
How Clinton Maintains Success
The success of a public speaker lies in his ability to communicate his message to his audience. Often, if a speaker is good, the audience will give him a standing ovation and remain enthralled long after the speech is over. This is because he was able to extend his passion in the minds of the people who listened to his speech. According to Ezilon.com (2008), this is the essence of public speaking: "get the audience agree with what you have tried to accomplish and make them think about it over and over again."
Public speaking is both a gift and a learned skill. Some speakers are better able to communicate their messages, while others fail to get their point across. However, many communications experts believe that anyone can acquire the qualities of a good public speaker with learning and practice.
A good public speaker knows his audience well. "You cannot touch the heart of the others if your statements are not substantial and that will be your failure as a public speaker," according to Ezilon.com. "That means you have to be logical and affirmative in your delivery and for that you have to have belief in whatever you are saying." good public speaker also needs to have a mastery over language. "This simply implies that you should be skillful enough to use the words properly to create an impact with your speech," according to Ezilon.com. "Think of the rhetoric of the world leaders, how they used the word power to ignite passion in the minds of the people and mobilize them for great causes. You should be intelligent enough to customize the type of the language for specific audience. As for example if you are speaking before an audience comprising mainly of elderly ladies on some inspirational topic, maintain a note that is overtly emotional. On the other hand while you are speaking on the same topic before an audience comprising male professionals, manipulate your words to create an extremely formal orientation."
Clinton, like all good public speakers, understands the importance of seeking out topics that interest and appeal to his audience. This is why he is frequently sought out organizations and universities to deliver speech. He can create unique and innovative topics out of a broad subject like graduation. He invents topics that reflect on those aspects of the subject that have direct connection with the audience.
Clinton also has an excellent sense of the use inflection as a tool to grab the attention of the audience. His presentations are always lively and never monotonous. He uses inflection at certain intervals to keep his audience attentive all through the sessions. He also appears to be extremely knowledgeable about whatever topic he is speaking on, while injecting humor to avoid coming across as a lecturer. Finally, he maintains a confident and energetic body language, which works wonders in adding to his credibility, despite his checkered past.
Today, more than ever, the success of meetings, campaigns, and event relies heavily on the strength of speakers and presentation. A good event can be destroyed by an ineffective speaker or presentation. For this reason, it is important to recognize that speakers bring a lot more to the table than just a message.
Bill Clinton is such a successful speaker because event organizers know they can count on him to provide insights, awareness, and cutting-edge information in an energetic, motivational, entertaining, and professional way.
Clinton consistently delivers important messages, while offering inspiration, helping people understand things, and inspiring change. He also avoids negativity, understanding that his audience did not come to listen to him complain. He always uses positive and uplifting language and seeks to inspire rather than complain.
Event organizers know that a speaker can often make or break the event. If he fails, the organization's reputation suffers and future events may be in danger. However, if he delivers a powerful speech, the organization receives accolades, compliments, and great reviews. This is why Bill Clinton's calendar is full and he is able to command hundreds of thousands of dollars for his speeches, and why he is considered one of the greatest speakers alive today.
CBS. (February 15, 2001). Bill Clinton -- Speaker for Hire. CBS News.
Reynolds, Garr. (October 24, 2006). Bill Clinton and the art of speaking in a "human voice." Presentation Zen. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2006/10/bill_clinton_an.html.
Ezilon.com. (2008). Essential Qualities of a Good Public Speaker Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.ezilon.com/articles/articles/1938/1/Essential-Qualities-of-a-Good-Public-Speaker.
Hernandez, Raymond. (February 13, 2006). On Podium, Some Say, Mrs. Clinton Is No Mr. Clinton. New York Times. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/13/politics/13hillary.html.
McIntire, Mike. (April 5, 2008). Clintons Made $109 Million in Last 8 Years. New York Times. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/05/us/politics/05clintons.html?_r=2&sq=clinton%20tax%20return&st=nyt&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&scp=1&adxnnlx=1228240749-pD/DHeZO/u0DtmEfRJMmqA.
Telegraph.co.uk. (2008). Democratic convention: Extracts from Bill Clinton's speech. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/2636086/Democratic-convention-Extracts-from-Bill-Clintons-speech.html.
Vosgerchian, Jessica. (January 4, 2007). Bill Clinton to speak to grads. Michigan Daily. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.michigandaily.com/content/bill-clinton-speak-grads.