Rate the Speaker: Day 1 Dem convention

When the Democratic National Convention began, it got off to a good start–speech wise. In most years, the speakers that go on during the afternoon are usually the weaker ones–while the stars are on in prime time. But the good start was quickly shown to be a tease and the speakers for several hours reverted to speaking styles that tempt you to turn off the TV or walk out of the room.

Here are a few comments on things we can learn. I’ll try to attach the videos of these segments when they become available.

John Hickenlooper Mayor of Denver, Colorado Speech Expert Assessment: Grade: C
Like many people, he started off his speech like a racehorse, speaking quickly. The result–he got tongue tied several times and flubbed his lines. It happens to us all. HINT: To overcome messing up your words, slow down your pace. When he did slow down, he had no problems. HINT: To ensure you don’t start your speech like a racehorse, write “S_L_O_W” at the top of your 1st page…and later, if this is an issue for you.

Joe Baca, Member of US House of Representatives, California Speech Expert Assessment: Grade: D –
Anyone who gets this big a stage needs to learn to pronounce the words—especially the candidate’s name. 3 times he called him Barack Barama. He also became very patterned in his delivery. Say 5 words and pause. Say 5 words and pause. Say 5 words and pause. HINT: To ensure you are not speaking in a pattern that bores your audience, record yourself and see if you save each sentence the same way. The ideal–a variety of pitch, pacing and projection.

Reg Weaver President, National Education Association
Speech Expert Assessment: Grade: B
Used lots of vocal variety. He used a technique that will be used many times in these conventions & at business keynote speeches (that are good and memorable)–repeating a phrase to emphasize a point. Weaver used, “I know a man…” to introduce 5 or 6 sentences. It captures attention.

Maya Soetoro-Ng Half-sister of Barack Obama & Teacher Speech Expert Assessment: Grade: B
Stopped and took in the crowd before speaking. + Switched Teleprompters at the end of paragraphs. + Didn’t shout. Let the microphone do the work. – Got a bit patterned after a while, + Allowed for audience applause at right times.

Mike Fisher & Cheryl Fisher – Beech Grove, Indiana Speech Expert Assessment: Grade: A-
+ They were REAL. For this Amtrak worker to be put in front of such a huge crowd was an honor. But it must have been scary. You would never know it. He looked relaxed and sounded conversational. Bravo!

If you’d like an expert assessment of your speaking style, drop me an email at

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