Clinton Trump Debate: public speaking lessons

Clinton Trump Debate: public speaking lessons

The Clinton Trump Debate this week was a brilliant lesson for the rest of us on how to deal with unreasonable questioning or sledging whilst speaking in public.

I find Trump a frightening and seriously unpleasant option for president. If I was an American I would be a Democrat but many others are better qualified to write about the politics than I am.

But this is my attempt to drag the lessons from the debate for clients who do speak in public.

Clinton Trump Debate: Hillary’s problem

Clinton’s problem throughout was how to respond to Trump’s accusations and sledging but also finding the time to land her substantive points.

And she did a brilliant job. She gave enough of an answer to each of her ‘difficult’ areas. And she also explained that she was not going to get overly distracted by all the factual errors that were coming from Trump instead pointing out that all that information was available on a special fact checker page on her campaign website.

She kept calm. She took her opportunities when they came. She criticised Trump forcefully and directly without being overly aggressive to him, or labouring the point. My favourite was ‘he lives in an alternative universe’.  She did not respond when he said she should be in prison.

Clinton Trump Debate: Town hall style

This was a town hall style debate and while Clinton stepped back and sat down when she wasn’t speaking. Trump did not – he lurked behind Clinton trying to keep a poker-face and not succeeding. He was rarely out of the shot. Some people will think that looked ‘presidential’, others will be offended that he was trying to intimidate or distract from her. I think she did well to always step forward so that he was out of her eye-line, making it easier to ignore him.

Clinton Trump Debate: Trump lands punches

To the chattering classes, Trump is not credible. However, in this debate, he did land some damaging punches that will chime with people who are angry and looking for establishment figures to blame for injustices and unhappy lives. He repeatedly called Clinton a liar, he repeatedly reminded people that Bernie Sanders has said Clinton had ‘bad judgement’, he repeatedly said ‘it is all talk’, and he repeatedly said he was for cutting taxes and Clinton was for raising taxes.

However, to normal thinking people Clinton won this debate hands down.

Clinton Trump Debate: some other coverage

Huffington Post on Trumps ‘lurking’ during the debate

Forbes pulls out some of the key quotes

The Daily Mail thinks that Trump came off best

The Washington Post did its own ‘fact check’ on the second debate

Images from YouTube


Lindsay Williams

About Lindsay Williams

Prior to founding her communications training agency, The Media Coach, Lindsay Williams worked as a journalist from 1983. She specialised in financial and business journalism since 1991. After thirteen years in the BBC with local radio, regional television, Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, she moved to Reuters Financial Television as Deputy Programme Editor. Working freelance from 1998, she was contracted in a variety of roles including as an executive producer for Bloomberg television delivering half hour profiles of Chief Executives, as a producer with Sky Business Unit and at CNBC. She has had articles published in Sunday Business, The Business, The Times and in specialist magazines such as Companies & Finance and Impact. For the majority of her journalism career she specialised in reporting business and finance. Lindsay Williams hosts a range of bespoke communication skills courses for The Media Coach which include Media Training, Presentation Training, Crisis Media Training and Message Building.

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