Politician Speak

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93% of communication is non-verbal. So what kinds of nonverbal communication makes a politician successful? I decided to watch one of the republican debates and one of the democratic debates. First I watched both without sound to pick up on the physical nonverbal communication, then, I watched them with sound to analyze their tones. I watched two candidates each in particular and here is my analysis. I’ll let you decide who’s non-verbal communication is successful.

I chose to analyze Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton from the democratic debate as I found them most memorable out of the group because they both had commanding but very different ways of speaking.

Bernie Sanders uses strategic hand gestures to accent important parts of his speech, as well as a firm, slow voice that allows the audience to hear and process everything he says. He pauses more frequently when he really wants to get a certain point across. The greatest difference between Sanders and Clinton, however, is how Sanders talks about what he believes in. Sanders’ begins with logos by using facts about the shrinking middle class; he talks about everything that is going wrong with the classes, global change, and overpopulation in the jails, buttressing his argument with logos. To finish he talks about what should be happening in regards to these issues and uses pathos to connect with the audience on an emotional level. Unlike the rest of the candidates, Bernie Sanders doesn’t talk about his past work with government or use ethos in any way to convince the audience of his credibility.

Compared to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton sounds more relaxed while speaking. She makes her speech sound sincere by not using many hand gestures, but nodding as she speaks as though she is agreeing with everything she is saying. As she gets more into the speech, she raises her voice and takes greater pauses in between words. As for the context of the speech, she starts off the exact opposite of Sanders by using ethos as she talks about being first lady, the senator of New York, and the Secretary of State. Following her ethos, she uses pathos by talking about her 1-year-old granddaughter and how she wants the best for her. She goes through what she wants to do as president step-by-step, which gives the impression of using ethos by making promises.

It was surprising when the candidates were asked what their greatest weakness was, and 2 out of the 10 candidates answered the question honestly. I chose to analyze Ben Carson because of how different his speech is compared to the other candidates. I also chose Donald Trump because I wanted to understand how he got as far as he has and to set aside my bias opinion to observe his speech.

To begin with, Ben Carson has a very soft, unconvincing voice but he still manages to get attention partly because of his unusual tone. He is intriguing because he is so calm unlike all the other candidates. Carson uses logos by talking about his math to lower taxes. He has no other point besides his facts, which are questioned in the debate.

As for Donald Trump, he uses a lot of natural hand gestures and pointing which shows his passion. He phrases his point by saying what is going to happen in comparison to other candidates who say what they will do. During the debate Trump attacks Kasich and he uses ethos by talking about how Kasich’s actions affected him. This argument is very convincing because of his credibility. He has gotten as far as he has because of his entertaining personality but it also showed in the debate that he was asked many questions about his eccentric ideas, which also gave him a lot of attention, as well as his arguments with other candidates which are fascinating to say the least.


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