Love him or loathe him, when President Trump speaks, people listen. Sure, it might be so they can ridicule what he’s said, but either way there are some valuable lessons we can learn from Donald Trump’s presentation style.
President Trump has a presentation style? Some readers may be surprised to read that’s the case but it’s true! Unconventional it may be, yet it was highly effective and continues to be so among his admirers.
As part of the Present Better team, I’m always interested in looking outside the box when it comes to helping your presentation. I have to admit it’s with cautious steps that I analyze Trump’s approach. I’m aware certain readers will think I’m barking up the wrong tree. Stick with me and I’ll show you how to climb that tree instead. By the time you reach the top, you’ll have a unique insight into this most distinct of personalities. How he puts his message across and more importantly how you can benefit from his example.
A good reference point when considering Trump’s presentation style is the announcement of his candidacy. It’s worth checking out in full. But you don’t have to watch the whole thing as I’ll be referring to it and other instances through the article…
How Donald Trump impresses his audience before he even begins
Donald Trump’s sky-high profile is the cornerstone of his personal brand. He uses his name as part of a presentation arsenal. Chances are you won’t have access to Trump’s resources when packaging your message! That doesn’t mean you can’t make a big splash by following his example.
I’m sure you noticed the podium sign and the way it’s designed. His name is contained in a box-like border. He literally packages himself and his name as the antidote to America’s blues. The notorious “Make America Great Again!” slogan is there but in smaller font underneath. The slogan is a component of the man giving the presentation.
Try thinking of a similar approach when devising your own brand. Remember that you are the conduit through which your message will flow. Eye-catching straplines are great but you know first impressions count. You and your name will be what people are looking at when arriving at your presentation. A well-designed sign goes some way to helping you make that initial impact on expectant listeners. If that’s not realistic, consider doing up the first slide of your presentation. Chances are it’ll be up on the screen before you begin your presentation
Gain the trust of your audience by showing you’re not alone
Trump is careful to present himself as a man with family at his core. At many of his public appearances you’ll notice he surrounds himself with them. By doing this, the image he and his team create is one of stability. Interestingly the President is viewed as a loose cannon and is often indiscreet on social media. However, a stable family background suggests someone is always there to keep him on track.
This highlights the importance of how you’re perceived in a social context. Let your audience know you have a reliable group around you, be they family, friends or colleagues. Being able to show that your company or team is behind you speaks volumes and one of the most powerful ways you can you’re your audience’s trust. Anecdotes about family go down well and help build a more personal connection with your listeners. Stories of your drunken exploits probably not so much!
Silence your critics by going for the business jugular
I referred earlier to the President’s “presentation arsenal”. He’s well known for his combative style. “We don’t have victories anymore!” he declares during his campaign announcement. He boasts about beating other countries via deals “all the time”.
Trump is swift to present his campaign in terms of a battle. A fight between the strong i.e. himself and the weak, i.e. the administration he wants to replace. Who can forget the way he threatened competitor Hillary Clinton with imprisonment? I wouldn’t recommend you go that far in your presentation! But business is naturally viewed as survival of the fittest. If you get your blow in first, be it a well-constructed turn of phrase or criticism of your opponent, that can set you apart from the rest. A strong, pro-active speaker is a respected speaker.
Present yourself simply and directly
One of the clever things about Trump’s presentation is how he positions himself in two camps. He simultaneously becomes both an establishment negotiator and a man of the people. Despite his luxurious lifestyle he attracts discontented voters from ordinary backgrounds.
How does he do this? He articulates how the forgotten generations feel. And unlike the political establishment he does this simply and directly. “I don’t need the rhetoric, I want a job!” he says at one point, imitating how a supporter might speak. His interaction with a persistent member of the audience who repeatedly hollers his support suggests he is willing to listen. People like to know you are considering them at all times. Trump talks directly to the populace, praising hard-working people and forgotten veterans.
Whether you believe Trump is honest or not, the key lesson to take away is the use of simplicity and understanding when giving presentations. Don’t be afraid to make your message as simple and straight as possible. Show you’re more than a podium projector by appreciating and interacting with those hanging on your words. If you feel you don’t understand how employees in your company feel and think, try opening your ears when you go about your day to day life. Chances are, you’ll find their concerns and priorities are different to yours.
Don’t forget to be funny
A noticeable quality used by Trump is flippancy. His campaign announcement is far from a serious occasion. He opens with an unusual remark about how his opponents don’t understand basic things like air conditioning. The casual punchline at the end of this is: “How are these people going to beat ISIS?”
His demeanour throughout is relaxed and supremely confident. He feels he can be offhand and funny, even when running for the Oval Office.
This unconventional approach is a significant part of his appeal. Just as this is the President who tweets behind staffers’ backs, so he is the man who inserts gags into dialogue over weighty subjects.
Humour is a great tool for putting people at ease. You may not like the way Trump uses it but it gets results. It’s worth considering how you can get an audience on your side by making them laugh as well as listen. If such a controversial figure can do it over international affairs, you can do it with your presentation!
Show audiences your expertise
Trump’s sense of self-worth is buoyed by his sizeable business portfolio. He can walk into a room full of people and assert that he is the man who gets results. Sounds too cocky? You should rethink your presentation strategy. People are there to listen to you. You’re supposed to be the person who knows what they’re talking about. If you don’t make a song and dance about yourself, who will?
The President declares himself a guaranteed engine of success: “The problem with free trade is you need talented people to negotiate it for you!” This is another clever move. He defines the free market in terms of a “problem” whilst introducing an easy solution… Donald Trump, a man whose career developed through that system!
Having the credentials and natural authority to dictate to an audience is a valuable asset to any presentation. You may not be mega-rich with years of experience but that doesn’t mean you’re not the smartest person in the room. Remember, it’s your presentation, no-one else’s, so own it.
Your presentation doesn’t have to be slick
You can’t fail to have observed Trump’s lack of finesse when it comes to presentation. The amount of times he’s sat there, arms folded defensively as he’s replied to a question or allegation. The number of inflammatory statements he’s posted on Twitter. This isn’t a slick operator, yet he made it all the way to the White House. Gaffes or no gaffes, he’s the President.
You can make your presentation as polished as possible. Rehearse it over and over again and fine tune it via numerous performances. But you’re not a machine. Audiences enjoy seeing a personality, not just a well-honed script with a mouth to speak it.
Don’t shy away from leaving some elements to chance. Allow time and space for things to go in other directions if the mood of the audience isn’t what you expected. Think on your feet if aspects of the presentation don’t go your way. Most people respect a watertight speaker but everyone loves a trier.
Win your audience over with one message, one solution
The President locates his campaign announcement on home turf. Standing in Trump Tower, he refers to countries who might pose a threat to the US. The difference between Donald Trump and other aspiring statesmen is that many of those countries have business interests inside the Tower. He already presides over a microcosm of the world.
So it’s no surprise that Trump views the global stage as a giant business deal. That’s why he has the confidence to help what he sees as a failing country, America. He presents the US in terms of a tired corporation, continually beaten by its competitors. This fuels his famous slogan “Make America great again!”
I’m prepared to bet you won’t have anything like the same power and influence. However, it’s worth admiring the perfection of this message and how Trump’s team have constructed it. Who else but one of the world’s richest and most recognizable businessmen could scoop America up and put it back on its financial feet? To retool it as a formidable agent of commerce?
The way this presentation works as a whole is a great case study. Just as Trump packages himself as a brand, he too is encased in an attractive outer wrapping. One that appears to be more in tune with other countries than the politically-driven Obama administration. This is the most important dimension to Trump’s campaign announcement. It’s fully worked-out and makes perfect sense to his key demographic. A simple and profitable solution. Man and pitch, seemingly in perfect harmony.
What you can gain from this is an idea of what makes an effective message. A simple concept, delivered directly in the right setting. Grasp this sense of totality and you will have a presentation that’ll power you through to the finish like Air Force One on a clear day.