Response To Our Blog On Media Training And Bill Clinton’s Speech

Response To Our Blog On Media Training And Bill Clinton's Speech

Our guest blogger is Duncan Matheson, President and co-founder of BissettMatheson Communications in New Brunswick, Canada. Here’s what he has to share after reading our blog on media training and former President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. This originally appeared at

I like speeches. Before I started writing them, I spent 20 years covering them as a reporter, and while many were great, some were dogs but the majority was mediocre. And despite all those times I was bored out of my gourd wishing to god the speaker would shut up, and even mediocre ones can do that, somewhere along the line I developed a fascination with speeches and how they were constructed and delivered.

I read books on speeches, I deconstruct speeches, I listen to speeches in a pretty weird way – I watch for the cadence, the alliteration, the pacing, how the stories are woven together, the optimism, the hope, whether the speaker is grabbing and holding the audience, the emotional ups and downs, how the key messages are resonating, the tone, and I look for what the audience is probably walking away with. In short, I’m pretty geeky when it comes to speeches.

So last night, sitting back in the lazyboy watching Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, I couldn’t help but marvel. I knew he was good, but I have never seen anybody deliver a speech with such mastery.

I am tempted to go on about why I found it so good but that would be redundant with so much that has already been written about it.

So instead, I want to offer a guest blog – not because I entirely agree with it because I don’t, but he does offer a good lesson that can be taken from Clinton’s speech. I will offer my take afterwards. Here then is Keith Yaskin, a media consultant in Scottsdale, Arizona:

Here’s my take. In this example, he’s absolutely right. Bill Clinton hit head-on the major criticisms of the Obama presidency, and he did it with a master’s stroke. In this case it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Such is not always the case. There is a downside to answering your critics. For one thing it can detract from your own agenda. For another it draws more attention to the criticism.

The better strategy is to objectively weigh the criticisms and decide whether there is more to be gained or lost by going there. If the criticism is the proverbial elephant in the room and it is the distraction, as was the case with Obama and how he handled the economy, then yes, you best deal with it.

But that’s not always the case.

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