Renee Grant-Williams weighs in with her opinion on the vocal qualities of the top-running GOP candidates in this article on LifeZette.com; a website founded by Laura Ingraham. Laura is the most-listened-to woman in America on political talk radio. Her show, “The Laura Ingraham Show,” is ranked in radio’s Top 10. She is a regular contributor on the Fox News Channel and a substitute host on The O’Reilly Factor.
How they sound affects how we feel about them—and maybe their electability
by Jennifer Anju Grossman on http://www.lifezette.com.
Voters seek a presidential candidate with a vision, values and experience.
Speechwriters seek “The Voice,” a candidate who knows how to project presence, modulate pitch, pace tempo and create drama.
Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., all “gave good speech.” Other leaders may have been good communicators — think Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — but their muted deliveries muffled their message. George H. W. Bush, for whom I wrote, had a nasally, reedy voice that strained under the weight of fancy sound bytes.
Like a flat-footed model stomping down the catwalk in stilettos and couture, overwrought prose can encumber the candidate who can’t carry it off.
So for a moment, forget about who can walk the walk. Who can talk the talk?
The question is not as simple as it seems, as a variety of other factors — political preference, appearance, speech content — understandably influence our judgment of speaking ability. So, with the next Republican presidential debate on tap for Tuesday, we asked a couple of experts help us filter the field.
Jeb Bush: While the former Florida governor may not have been born with a “silver foot in his mouth,” as former Texas Gov. Ann Richards famously said of his father, George H.W. Bush, in 1988, he lacks his dad’s gravitas and his brother’s spontaneity. Renee Grant-Williams, a world-renowned speaking coach who has worked with Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Keith Urban among others, cites “little evidence of energy, confidence, or drama,” in Jeb Bush’s delivery, which he could improve by “reaching out with long, early, aggressive consonants. It draws listeners in and compels them to pay attention.”
Not so sanguine is Ned Rice, a southern California freelance joke writer who’s worked with the best in stand up comedy: “He’s hopeless. His words are overshadowed by his body language. The slumped shoulders, the sighs. He just doesn’t seem to want to be there,” Rice said.
Dr. Ben Carson: The dormouse at Alice’s tea party, “Ben Carson always sounds like he just woke up,” Rice said. Like a bedside manner — from someone who’s still in bed.
And while this “softly modulated, slightly sibilant voice … could very well bring comfort to a nation reeling from the pain of attacks without and within,” Nashville-based Grant-Williams said these speech traits may not translate to those “one would look for in a leader who will be expected to stand up to President Vladimir Putin.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: High marks for enunciation and authenticity, but maybe just a bit too much enunciation and authenticity. He needs to chill out.
“His voice is colored by a bright, forward-resonating quality that has the potential to become somewhat irritating, but it certainly commands attention,” Grant-Williams said.
“Overly earnest” is how Rice describes him. “He comes across like he might burst into tears at any moment.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Might make you burst into tears at any moment. Authority, modulation, good rhythm are all pros of his prose. He comes across as authentic, except, perhaps, when trying to convey humility. He needs to temper his command presence with a sense of compassion to avoid coming across with the arrogance of those “often wrong but never in doubt.”
His weight problems may also be weighing on his voice in ways listeners don’t even consciously process. Blind studies have found that male voices rated as most attractive tend to belong to the healthiest, best proportioned male speakers.
“Voices are a medium for carrying a variety of biologically relevant data,” Gordon G. Gallup Jr., a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, told LifeZette.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: Needs to slow it down and change it up.
“He has a well-pitched clear and resonant voice,” Grant-Williams said. “But his words travel at warp speed, and that fast-paced delivery makes it difficult to digest and reflect upon what he is saying.”
Also, he invariably sounds like he’s “making a speech instead of having a chat with his neighbors,” she said.
He gets high marks for discipline, but needs to ditch the endlessly repeated personal saga.
“I think I’ve heard enough about how his dad used to be a bartender,” Rice said. “I used to be a bartender, too, and I’m not running for president.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich: While he registers as “sincere and friendly,” said Grant-Williams, “his speaking voice sounds a bit thin.” In a field of colorful candidates, he fades. Grant-Williams strains to find “anything compelling about the tone, color or phrasing to distinguish this voice.”
Plus, he may be unconsciously communicating the same peevish impatience that has hurt other candidates like Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
“He keeps saying, ‘I’ve done this,’ as though we should just anoint him president by a quick show of hands,” Rice said.
Which brings us to the current front-runner.
Donald Trump: Beyond the obvious — a “conversational tone,” confidence and aversion to “language that is unfamiliar to the average voter” — Grant-Williams detects craft in his uncoached delivery. He knows how to command attention, and block interruption.
“Listen closely to the rise and fall of his voice. You will notice that Trump tends to raise the pitch of the final words of his phrases. This lift communicates that he intends to continue, making it difficult for opponents to break in — leaving the ball firmly in Trump’s court.”
His supporters agree.
Zack Martin, 38, a Malibu, Calif., -based drug counselor, summed it up perfectly. “Let’s face it: Trump owns that stage. He’s eight feet tall in a pool seven feet deep. Everyone else is over their heads and treading water.”
I would love to get your feedback, leave a comment below. Renee