December 28, 2011

Candidates’ Speaking Styles Can Sway Caucus Voters

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Editors Note:Emily Woodbury, the news director at KRUI Radio at the University of Iowa, did a similar version of this story for Iowa Public Radio, which aired Dec. 14 and 15. To hear it, click here.


Whether presidential candidates are speaking in the Iowa caucus campaign or a town meeting, they need to effectively convey their message and connect with people crowd.

This year,speaking styles ranging from the soothing manner of Barack Obama to the sarcasm of Rep. Ron Paul.

I ask several rhetoric and speech experts to assess the speaking manner of those in the current lineup of contenders.

Bruce Gronbeck, a University of Iowa professor emeritus who specializes in political rhetoric, told me that the way candidates speak can have a major impact on the campaign. He used former President Bill Clinton as an example.

“Once he riveted in on you, you felt you had his complete attention,” Gronbeck said. “You were the complete focus of him and what he was thinking and saying.”

Persuading an audience is all about “personal connection,” said Doug Gross, former chief of staff to Terry Branstad, Iowa’s Republican governor.

“If they like you, then they’ll listen to you, and … then you have a shot at persuading them.”

To listen to some of the candidates speak and experts critique them, click here.

(Emily Woodbury is news director at KRUI and a senior at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science)

 

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