presentations republican style & democrat style

 presentation american flag dress streep



“With malice toward none … let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”




Abraham Lincoln second inaugural speech









DifferencesI have never read “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” but I understand the premise. I start with that thought because if you watched both of the USA Republican and the Democratic conventions you could be absolutely forgiven for believing one group lives on Mars and the other on Venus.


The Republicans focused almost solely on the threat to America … from within and without.


The Democrats focused almost solely on the opportunity for America … within and without.


On one side I hear “law & order” as the absolute and on the other side I hear “rise together” as the absolute.




I am not going to suggest which is better … I know what I prefer but everyone needs to choose on their own.


What I am going to suggest is that great presenting matters. And that words well said bring life to ideas. Conversely, words used poorly can kill ideas.


I think we all know is that effective communication is the lifeblood of any healthy work & personal environment.


I think we all know that communication takes place on multiple levels in order to be truly effective – literally what we say as well as how we say those things.


I think we all know that emotion is the energy behind any true action. Without emotion action is … well … robotic at its core. In other words … it creates a task doing and checklist completion attitude.

communication she-wants1

Knowing all that … I know I like hearing good presenters with good messages who communicate effectively on all levels. And I know I LOVE hearing a great idea or thought presented well <because that is what I think great ideas deserve and need>.


And that is where I believe the largest gap between the two conventions resides.


In the presentation of ideas & thoughts.


Simplistically … this is where I believe Trump cost his cause the most harm.


Because, for all the everyday schmuck may pontificate about “just delivering a canned speech,” there is nothing “just” about standing on a large stage in front of thousands of people <physically> and millions of people <eyeballs> and delivering a message.


If you have never done it … well … you just cannot understand what it is like <it is like running a gauntlet>.


Therefore … this is where elder statesmen/women help. You can pull the expert experienced orator off the shelf to deliver the most important messages in an inspiring, motivating, articulate way.

Trump sacrificed that.


In his hip pocket he had his family <who did well but are certainly not great communicator presenters> and a smattering of self-righteous indignant politicians who struggled to effectively communicate at the highest level.


This doesn’t mean the Democrats didn’t have some of the same … but they had the opportunity to either bury them among the great presenters or relegate them to a non prime time slot <because the prime time slots were chockfull of the big guns>.


But in the primetime … well … you want prime time talent.


What I mean is that on the Democrat side … well … night 1 was Booker, Michele O, Warren & Sanders.

Night 2 Albright & B. Clinton <with a nice Jimmy Carter video>.

Night 3 Panetta, Bloomberg, Kaine, Biden & Obama.

Night 4 Hillary.


The Republicans? Well. The Republicans were not only, in general, really crappy presenters but it was compounded by a darker, more ominous view of America, fear driven messaging.


The Democrats? Well. Not only did you have good presenters but they were also more often talking about a more hopeful future, a more optimistic view of America and what we can do if we get our shit together.


That said.


I am going to comment on some of my presentations of note … both Republican and Democrat.


Let me begin with two presentations which I will simply call “American.”


Khizr Khan DNC constitutionSacrifice & country.

American: Khizr Khan


Khizr Khan is an American Muslim. His son, also a Muslim, was an American Army captain killed in action.

In an incredibly dignified way he became the unlikely spokesperson for Muslim America. I cannot imagine anyone in their wildest dreams would have selected this solid, slightly regal-in-bearing, man as the torch bearer for Muslims in America. And, yet, there he was holding a pocket sized version of the Constitution stating “you have sacrificed nothing and no one.”


Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know this was directed toward Trump … and I sincerely hope Trump felt some anguish when listening to this defiant father.




This was directed to 93% of America.

The last time I saw a number on this it was something like only 7% of Americans has a direct relationship with someone who has served or currently serves in the military.


I included.


I have sacrificed nothing nor have I sacrificed no one. And if but for one moment a dignified man, no less a dignified American Muslim, reminded me of this.

I imagine everyone in the 7%, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, paused with the words of this man and nodded.


I can only hope the other 93% paused with the words to think just a little bit more about the words we use with regard to what sacrifice for country & honor truly is. And I certainly hope that Republicans sat up and took note <as did Khan in an interview on MSNBC … avoid the first 7 minutes or so to get to Khan interview>


Me, as a commentator on presentations, will suggest this was an example of how being polished in presentation is irrelevant if you honor your message and have an honorable message.



The heart of democracy.rev barber dnc moral compass heart of america

American: Reverend William Barber


“We cannot give up on the heart of democracy. Not now. Not ever.”




I run the risk that I am going to get a bunch of emails giving me shit about being some bleeding heart non Christian liberal by highlighting the Reverend’s speech.  Yeah. He spoke at the Democrat Convention but … well … fuck it.

This was a speech about America’s heart & soul … regardless of you party or religion.


I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination and I … well … sat there fascinated, watching, and listening to every word this mountain of a man uttered. Barber’s deep voice rumbled through the convention hall like a thunderstorm of morality. Yet. There was no finger pointing or judgement of issues just a commanding … well … a command to all of us to revive the heart of democracy.


From a religious perspective?

 “We need to embrace our deepest moral values…for revival at the heart of our democracy…When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child, the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith but they love this nation, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.”


We have issues as a country … economic, inequality, social, etc. … but … at the core of all our future decisions, choices and behavior resides in whatever we may have as the heart of the nation. We people hold on to our specific opinions and beliefs with ragged claws … and maybe, just maybe, this mountain of a man will make some people let go to some of them. For that alone he just did America a great service in his presentation.

This was a powerful presentation delivered by a powerfully centered man.


“The watch word of our democracy is we.”


Who they are and who we are

presentations developing oneRepublican: Reince Priebus.



The poor guy got slightly buried because … well … he is not really part of the Trump team.

This is the speech that every Republican should have printed out and taped to the inside of their briefcase.

This was a clinic on how to clearly articulate in a simple, engaging way who they are and who we are … and what they want and what we want.





This was by far the best speech at the Republican convention. But I bet I, and Reince’s wife, are the only ones who truly paid attention.



The casual verbal stroll

Republican: Trump’s personal friend Thomas Barrack


Some people compared this to a wedding toast gone bad.



But shorten it by maybe 10 minutes and think about it.

No podium. No teleprompter <at least none obvious>. No notes.

It was a casual delivery of a fairly cohesive message … in front of 20,000 people and on national TV.

The guy has an incredible speaking gift. I could only dream of being able to communicate so clearly so extemporaneously and so casually.


He did say one thing that I am surprised didn’t catch people’s attention … in a fond moment of candor he stated one of Trump’s greatest strengths is his ability to manipulate people he did business with.

“He played me like a Steinway piano.”


Candor is always an interesting thing.

Regardless … this guy is comfortable presenting and has an incredible ability to do so.


The prosecution speaks.

overcommunication speakersRepublican: Chris Christie


Chris Christie is not my cup of tea but his speech simply prosecuted his case. Sure. He bludgeoned us in overarching style but, as any good prosecutor does, he outlined the stated issues and then stated the <unofficial> verdict.


One by one.

Hammer strike by hammer strike.


Should you do this for an entire presentation? Of course not. But Christie gave a clinic on prosecuting your case in a presentation. And every presenter should take note that building in a segment like this within your presentation can be incredibly commanding, credible, persuasive and … well … effective.


I do believe more presenters shoudl incorporate this into presnetations. Far too often we are being convinced we are “telling a story” and softly peddle our thoughts, ideas and recommendations. at some point  you … well … need to hammer in your point. Prosecute your case as it were.



Family style

Republican: The Trump kids <although I am not sure they are really Republicans>


Well.ivanka rnc speech

Its not like I thought they were crappy presenters … but watching professional presenters versus them as presenters was like watching … well … an amateur versus a professional. When comparing them to the rest of the Republican lineup of presenters they compared well.

When comparing them to the Democrat lineup of presenters … well … there was no real comparison.


Do I think Ivanka could be a good presenter some day? Sure. But my guess is that she is a fabulous small room communicator and that is, and will be, her gift.  She is poised. She is polished. But on stage at the convention she was okay.


Do I think one of the Trump sons could be a good presenter some day? Sure <and that is a slightly more of a sure than Ivanka>. One of them <I do not know the difference between the two of them> actually has the assured style and trappings of a good presenter in this format. If he could stop trying to emulate his father’s brash arrogant style I believe he’s got the goods. On stage that one son was better than okay.


The other daughter

Democrat: Chelsea Clinton.




chelsea dncThis was a wonderful <wonderful> lesson to anyone out there who is scared shitless of presenting.


Define your boundaries. Tune out what others say. Don’t overreach. Focus on moving your lips and saying what you mean to say and mean what you say.

This wasn’t a performance. This was simply a nonprofessional speaker being asked to … well … make a big speech.

Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother at the Democratic convention. Speaking deliberately she explained a woman who only she has seen.  We got a glimpse of a mother thru a daughter’s eyes.

In a nonprofessional way she was … well … graceful. This was a clinic for any presenter who is being pounded on by some presentation coach telling someone they need to be more enthusiastic and use their hands and move and … well … all the standard tricks of the coaching trade.

My point?

Find your voice and style and stand with it.

She wasn’t dynamic in the traditional definition of dynamic but ended up being dynamic regardless.



Note: A presentation lesson everyone should learn.


In an odd twist … while I didn’t dislike Ivanka’s performance … she looked like she was trying too hard to maintain a brand … and Chelsea just performed like she knew this was gonna be hard and ‘maintaining a brand’ never even crossed her mind.


This is an important nuance.


If you assume you have some ‘personal brand’ then you build presentations and persona based on what you want to have people perceive … and the message has to go thru that filter <which assumes some stuff gets rejected by the filter>. Chelsea, if she even thought about brand at all, assumed her brand would evolve from within – from her message & heart. Her brand would be a reflection of what is within which disregards any external filters.


But Ivanka should watch Chelsea’s tape. She would do well to think about it a little.



Rise up

Democrat: Corey Booker


This was the speech Rudy Guliani should have wanted to give.

Conversely, this was the democrat answer to Rudy Guliani. Rudy was passionately dark. Corey was passionately hopeful.


He quoted Maya Angelou. He quoted Abraham Lincoln. He had the audience saying the key line in cadence with him “we will rise.” He was uplifting. He spoke of love without it being soft. He spoke of America as a soul and not a person. He spoke of flying and not standing.


To me, while I believe it was Sarah Silverman who in a short biting monologue shifted the tenor of the convention it was Booker who reminded everyone that hope trumps fear and up is better than down.


The moment people care

Democrat: The moment Michelle made people care.presentation michelle obama


In an election where far too many people are bemoaning the lack of a good choice or the ‘choice of the lesser of two evils’ it was Michelle Obama who suggested we actually had a good choice.

And she did so in a way that reminded us that today is … well … just today and what matters is tomorrow.


What a fabulous, and I mean fabulous, presentation.


For if but a moment I was able to ponder how far we have come as a country and, yet, envision an even better tomorrow.

As a presenter … she also does several things so naturally I believe most people don’t even notice.


She has a stylistic thing she does with her right hand where when she makes a ‘pause point’ she holds up her hand almost like it is a “stop” sign … or “talk to the hand?” … regardless … it is an effective maneuver.


She has a look. She is always earnest in what she says … but then there is a moment … I call it the ‘hunker down moment.’ It is almost like she is chastising a child for doing or thinking something wrong. Her eyes seem a little darker and her face becomes slightly more stern. When she does it … well … it’s like we sit up in our chair a little more listening.


She moves back. It is a beautiful presentation move. Frickin’ beautiful. Most presenters when they take a dramatic pause they … well … pause. When Michelle does it she actually slightly shifts back away from the microphone and podium. It is almost like she is creating some space so that she can gather her next thought.



The spine of America.

Democrat: Joe Biden


“We never bow. We never bend. We never break. We endure. We overcome, and we always, always, always move forward.”


The heck with calling it the middle class. The heck with calling it hard working America. The heck with … shit … just call it the spine of America. And Joe Biden embodies the spine of America. In a ‘sitting in the neighborhood bar’ style he has a unique ability to speak of America’s moral compass in a more tough resilience way than how others speak of heart. There are multiple ways to speak about “doing the right thing” and Biden has an incredible knack for taking on that discussion from a hardnosed stripped down simplistic view of “it’s just what we do.”


Just as on night one where Booker’s speech will be over looked because of Michelle’s … Biden’s will be forever overlooked by Obama’s soaring rhetoric.




This was blue collar values America at its best.


This wasn’t esoteric hopeful rhetoric.


This was a beautiful “everyone just shut the fuck up, put your adult pants on … and let’s do what we need to do today” speech.


And cleverly he inserted a small suggestion that hard working Republican America is different than Trump … almost giving permission for Republicans to stand up and not accept Hillary but reject Trump’s America.

It was beautifully done.



fly book words soarNot just rise … let’s soar.

The president.


Oh my.


Hope rose above fear.


We rose above I.


Tomorrow rose above yesterday.


Hard work & heart rose above anger.


Optimism rose above pessimism.


America rose above … well … Trump’s version of America.




I fully admit I am a hope guy.

And I fully admit it is speeches like this that make me wish I were a better person.


And I fully admit it is speeches like this that make me want to be a better version of who I am.


I could write pages on the speech. As always with an Obama speech there always seems to be one paragraph I wish he would have edited out but that is nitpicking.


It soared. And it appears Booker’s “Rise Up” almost became a small thread of vision within this speech <and others>. And while I am sure many people will disagree I did not believe this was a “rosy fantasy land” speech but rather one that simply suggested “you can look at problems or you can look at solutions … and I choose to believe we do better when we believe we have the solution in us.”


But I will make one tactical point in the words.


Just as Biden elegantly delivered in a very blue collar way that there is Trump … and then there are Republicans … Obama did the exact same thing. He clearly placed a gap in between Trump and the traditional Republican conservative view of the world … and did it in a way that suggested there is a nonpartisan gap between Trump and what any American wants and believes.


It was a brilliant pivot from the traditional Republicans bad & Democrats good tripe.

And I would like to note that in February I suggested to any Republican in the primary who would listen that the way to beat Trump was to separate him from who and what USA is.


Presenters , in general, should take note of this tactic. Business presentations almost invariably discuss competition or the ‘foil’ to what you want to do. More often than not they are some big amorphous competitor to what we want to do. What Obama did was suggest the competition has a face … and that face doesn’t necessarily reflect a larger group & belief system.



In the end?


While acknowledging that we are still a work in progress and that there are still many issues we need to address and that anxiety about the future of America exists … “I am more optimistic about America than ever before” is what the everyday schmuck like me needs to think about.


This is the kind of speech America doesn’t need to hear day in and day out … but … it serves as a helpful reminder of a North Star attitude which can easily be missed in the clouds of a typical day … if not clouds created by a Republican party.


I added that last point not to compliment the speech but to make a point. In business, some people make careers out of stating what cannot be done and why it cannot be done. The ability to remind people of what can be done and why it should be done is a gift that every presenter should seek to give their audience.





“Those of us who have more yesterdays than tomorrows tend to care more about our children and grandchildren. The reason you should elect her is that in the greatest country on Earth we have always been about tomorrow.”


Bill Clinton



Those were the presentations, as a writer & presenter myself, that made me sit up <in  good way>.




I didn’t note either of the nominees. Neither are particularly good large space presenters.


To me, listening to a Trump presentation is like interviewing a poorly prepared extremely unqualified candidate.



Conversely, to me, listening to a Clinton presentation is like interviewing an extremely overqualified candidate who is obviously smarter than I.



That’s it.



Mark Murray Twitter

The line that stood out to me: “The choice is clear.” Never before has there been two more different candidates w two more diff agendas

persistence shit break free




As I have stated before and I will state again and again … to me … this election comes down to one thing … how deep a shithole do you believe the country is in?


If you believe we are in so deep that all you see is darkness for the future you will buy the Trump “undefined risk.”


If you believe we have problems but we are not in a shithole, just driving over some shithole potholes in the road, then you will pull the lever for the less risk more pragmatic Clinton.



, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Written by Bruce