The headline in Andrew Coyne’s story in this morning’s National Post was “Few politicians could carry off Clinton’s speech.”
Coyne was commenting on Bill Clinton’s address to the Democratic national convention on Wednesday evening and here’s the key points:
- It went on too long
- Bill stretched the truth on occasion
- It contained “wonky” wording
- It wasn’t a great speech
- But it worked
Now why did it work? Simple. It was the delivery.
Bill Clinton can deliver a speech. He’s a speaker who can read from the phonebook and get a standing ovation.
Bill was having a good time up at the lectern and in return his audience was having at least as good a time listening to him. He ad libbed. He laughed at his own jokes. The audience loved him.
So what did Bill do right?
- He got off the teleprompter and the audience loved it (It’s the same as getting in front of the lectern.)
- He knew what he was talking about (He was qualified to talk on the subject.)
- He had something to say and he can explain it in ways his audience can grasp (He kept it simple.)
- He trusts his audience to work with him (He treated his audience like adults.)
- He understands that substance sells (Content! Content! Content!)
- And he spoke from his heart (People related and Bill moved them emotionally.)
Finally and perhaps most importantly Bill Clinton ended with a call to action and the action was to wait for the change that was coming.
He’s what he said according to the newspaper article:
It may not feel like a recovery now, “but you will feel it” and as he bowed his head almost in prayer he concluded: ‘You will feel it…
“With all my heart, I believe it.”
A great American speech? No. But a great American speaker? Absolutely. And a speech and speaker who can teach us all how to deliver a big speech.