You Can Communicate like Donald Trump

 In Blog

The Donald Trump Show is a hit. You may or may not like what he says (disclaimer for the record: I don’t) but as I follow his campaign, I’ve noticed that Trump is practicing some powerful communication strategies.

If you were running for office, you would probably not want to emulate the Trump style or substance. But if you step back and consider what Trump is doing as an entertainer (just imagine his campaign as an episode in his reality TV show “The Apprentice,”) consider how you might adapt some of what he does into your on-air, podcasting or on-stage presentation.

Own it. Take a stand. Do not back down. Do not apologize. Remove qualifying words before your statements, like “in my opinion,” or “I think.” State everything you say as irrefutable fact. But unlike a politician, when you take a stand as an entertainer, be self-deprecating. Learn from comedian Bill Burr, who qualifies the more offensive or controversial topics in his act with statements like, “For the most part, people get it that I am an idiot.”

“Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” – Mark Twain. awarded Trump their 2015 “Lie Of The Year” for saying that he witnessed cheering mobs around the World Trade Center on 9/11, and Trump has hit that website’s “Pants On Fire” meter more than most. If you ever run for public office, you will be more successful sticking to the truth. But the takeaway here for entertainers is that exaggeration to make an entertaining story funnier or more compelling can be a good thing.

Own the room. Trump plays the role of The Boss. He commands. He uses vocal dynamics. He interrupts. I heard a great quote once; “The world gets out of the way for a man who knows where he is going,” and that applies to women as well. We coach entertainers to be “you plus 10%.” Learn from comedian Chris Rock in how he projects his voice. Listen to Howard Stern interrupt celebrities during interviews to speed the conversation. Before facing your audience, imagine yourself as bigger-than-life and you will be.

Don’t Bother With Details. Google “Trump speech transcript” and you’ll read broad, non-specific statements like “We have to build a fence (on the Mexican border.) And it’s got to be a beauty. Who can build better than Trump?” His statements are emphatic and provocative but do not include a lot of detail. If Trump tried to explain how he would build such a fence, his idea would quickly fall apart. Even worse – you would get bored. As an entertainer, you should also avoid getting into technicalities, numbers and too many specifics. Details are not good. No one reads the fine print as entertainment.

You can agree or disagree with Trump’s ideas, but it is hard to deny that Trump is connecting well in Republican opinion polls. He captures so much media attention that he almost doesn’t need to run campaign advertisements. We live in a short attention span era of sound bites, tweets and reality TV. The Trump phenomenon includes some important communications lessons in connecting to today’s audiences.


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