I first learned of this speech by Phil Davison on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. It has been bantered about as the “worst political campaign speech ever” … and I must admit that is is an ineffective speech. However, there are some things about Davison’s presentation that are good. Watch the video and then read what I have to say below.
Note: I originally had a short critique of this video posted on Sept. 22, 2010. I re-watched and re-wrote the critique on Feb. 20, 2021.
I’m basing this critique of the fundamental superpowers needed for an effective persuasive speech:
Passion: First, one of the most important “superpowers” a public speaker can have is passion. Davison certainly has passion! However, he is exhibiting this passion is a very odd way at what appear to be inappropriate moments. The words he is saying don’t go along with the passion of his presentation.
Authenticity: I think he was authentic. I believe he truly believed in what he was trying to achieve and, in the calmer moments of his speech, it think we saw the person they would be nominating.
Audience Engagement: Reading your notes during a presentation is fine. It can keep you on point, but Davison seems to be battling between engaging the audience by stepping away from the lectern and using his notes as a crutch.
Confidence: It took confidence to get up there in the first place. He probably was a bit nervous, which probably led to the ill-matched behavior to language combinations.
Organization: There was organization there. Sometimes it strayed, but it was there. I liked his use of Einstein’s quote to organize, at least some of his ideas around.
Persuasion: I think he could have been persuasive if he had practiced more and matched his energy to the right moments in his speech. He showed evidence of nascent speaking talent. He just needs some practice, and perhaps a speaking coach.
Voice: His voice was strong. I wasn’t there, but it seemed to me that his voice projected well.
Body Language: He had good use of body language — if you didn’t pay attention to what he as saying. With a little practice and training, I think he could use his body language confidence to good effect by matching appropriately to the language he is using.
Eye Contact: Most of the time, he maintained good eye contact. It was his use of notes that tripped him up. There are better ways to use note that would be less distracting.
In summary, I think that Davison was doing all the right things … but in the wrong way. What do you think? Please add your thoughts on what Davison was doing right … or wrong … in the comment box below.
This is the first of many speech critiques I hope to do to help you learn to be a better speaker. Is there a speech you’d like me to comment on? Please send it to email@example.com.