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Tags: brembeck | kennedy | nixon | roosevelt

Trump Knows Value of Communication Skills

Trump Knows Value of Communication Skills

Former U.S. president Calvin Coolidge, at the Coolidge family homestead in Plymouth, Vermont, in July of 1931. A White House dinner guest once bet the president that she could get the president to say more than two words. The president's reply? "You lose." (AP)

By    |   Friday, 06 July 2018 01:22 PM EDT

As you watch President Donald J. Trump, himself a baby boomer, communicate with the press and the American people, how would you assess his styles of speaking and conversing?

How does the president compare to his predecessors?

For example, does he measure up to the first baby boomer to be president of the United States, Bill Clinton, or to other boomer presidents, like George W. Bush or Barack Obama?

Perhaps you view the communication style of president Trump through the lens of history, comparing it to the styles of some of our former presidents who were widely viewed to be great communicators. Three former U.S. presidents who would fit that bill come to mind: Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.

It's interesting to look at three aspects making presidents communicators of merit.

The first is their ability to connect with the American people. President Abraham Lincoln was known for his ability to frame an argument, which is one reason he was such an effective lawyer and debater. For a president to make a good connection with the American people, it's important that they can frame and brand their position in such a way that it resonates with Americans.

The second important aspect is to be a good listener. Some presidents are given high marks for their oratory skills, their speaking style, and their spoken word.

However, the best communicators are often actually those who listen to the public, have empathy, and adjust accordingly.

Perhaps the president who was best at this was Bill Clinton. After spending only a short period of time with one person, President Bill Clinton could grasp and relate to them. This was indeed his talent.

Clinton understood that you can't talk and connect to the American Public unless you have first heard the American Public.

The third aspect of communication needed for a president to be an effective communicator is persuasive ability. The highly respected late Professor Winston Brembeck of the University of Wisconsin authored "Theories of Persuasion." The book is considered one of the best historical authorities on political persuasion.

In both his classes and his book, Dr. Brembeck often cited the style, command, and self-confidence of then candidate John F. Kennedy during the legendary Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960. Professor Brembeck thought that during the debates, Kennedy was expertly using techniques of both non-verbal and verbal communication.

Thus, when JFK became president, he easily disarmed critics and the press with wit; what later became known as "the Kennedy wit."

Persuasion takes many forms, including knowing your audience, while employing carefully selected vocabulary to relate to listeners. Another way to improve one's persuasive ability is to interact with listeners in a way letting them know that you identify with them. President Kennedy was the master of these particular persuasion shills. It's one reason why he was so well liked by Americans.

One thing presidents Reagan and Kennedy had in common, when it came to their ability to persuade, was the ability to use a smile to relate and communicate — and thus to persuade.

Communication is more important now than ever. With the advent of Cable News, the 24-hour news cycle, and social media, getting your message out is key.

Mr. Trump has a way of dominating the news cycle. No matter one's politics, everyone seems to be talking about our current president. Not since FDR has a president been able to dominate the current landscape. And yes, he does possesses a unique style of communication, but then again, so do most U.S. chief executives. Absent communication skills, it's simply almost impossible to become commander in chief.

As for baby boomer presidents, we have now seen many occupy the Oval Office. It's why covering this topic seemed to be appropriate for our ongoing discussion in this boomer generation space.

Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns "Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation." He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Mr. Trump has a way of dominating the news cycle. No matter one's politics, everyone seems to be talking about our current president. Not since FDR has a president been able to dominate the current landscape.
brembeck, kennedy, nixon, roosevelt
Friday, 06 July 2018 01:22 PM
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