Article Category: Commentary

Speech Critiques – McCain, Palin, Republican Convention 2008


Last week, we examined speech critiques of Barack Obama and others at the Democratic Convention 2008.

This week, it was the Republicans’ turn at the microphone with the whole world watching.

One by one, they spoke — John McCain, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lieberman, Fred Thompson, Tom Ridge, and Cindy McCain.

One by one, they were critiqued — by Nick Morgan, John Watkis, Garr Reynolds, Bert Decker, and Denise Graveline.

This article is a collection of speech videos and numerous speech critiques from public speaking experts.

Watch, listen, and learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Enjoy!

John McCain

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Nick Morgan on John McCain:

Overall, the speech was mediocre.  It was too long, McCain was frequently out of synch with his audience, he’s a wooden presenter, and there was absolutely nothing new in it. …

McCain’s speech was full of fight.  Almost literally; he repeated the word “fight’ obsessively and absurdly at the end in a weird attempt at creating a final frenzy of enthusiasm with the audience.

John Watkis on John McCain:

McCain was average tonight. The speech was well written, but McCain lacked the ability to deliver it the way it was written. His timing and rhythm were non existent.

Still, McCain did have his moments. When he told the story of his capture, McCain was most comfortable. At that point, it became less about the speech and more about sharing his story with the audience. When that happened, he connected. His final rally cry to fight was quite a surprise. I was actually moved.

Garr Reynolds on John McCain:

It was not a disaster for Senator McCain, at least not for the supportive live audience in the hall, but I was really surprised by the lack of energy, emotion, and clear structure in his address to the Republican National Convention.

Sarah Palin

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Bert Decker on Sarah Palin:

The speech was well written and outstandingly delivered. Together it was a very rare communication experience. Power under pressure! … There was not a vocal hesitation, not a non-word, not a shaking hand at the start as she handled her speech papers.

Denise Graveline on Sarah Palin:

Her rhetoric defines her as a “hockey mom” to evoke a decidedly feminine image. … But Palin’s speaking style last night was decidedly old-school, aggressive and more traditionally masculine in tone–at a time when her own credibility and suitability for the role is widely debated.

John Watkis on Sarah Palin:

Palin’s best moments came when she used her sense of humor and when she connected emotionally to her message. The emotional moments came when she spoke about children with special needs and when she took swipes at Barack Obama.

The one area Palin needs to work on is her voice. There are times when she speaks in a high pitch that grates on the ears. When she got down to business, the high pitch was replaced with a lower, stronger, more pleasant tone that made you want to listen.

Rudy Giuliani

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Joe Lieberman

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Fred Thompson

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Tom Ridge

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Cindy McCain

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What did You Think?

Unfortunately, not as many bloggers reviewed the Republican convention speakers from a public speaking perspective. Why is that? What are your thoughts? What are the strengths and weaknesses demonstrated by the Republican convention speakers?

This is one of many public speaking articles featured on Six Minutes.
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