I hear all the time about the many great speakers from throughout history, and as time goes on these legacies become cemented into unquestionable fact.
Sure, I could read the transcripts of all the historical “great” speeches and be like, “Wow, this really was a great speech!” But, the speech and the speaker are not one in the same. When I hear the delivery of some of the "best" speakers, of the ones we have an actual recording of, my brain starts to panic.
Does my brain believe something simply because it has been packaged as fact? Or, does it go by what it can actually process via the senses? If I could go back in time and listen to Abe Lincoln or Socrates, they might very well be on this list as well. Fortunately for them I can’t.
I’ve decided to stop perpetuating the "great speaker" myth for several of its beneficiaries. Below is my list of the most famous, overrated speakers (that we can actually listen to).
1. Hillary Clinton
During the most recent presidential campaign, I heard wayyy too many people glorifying Hillary as a speaker, including how wonderful her concession speech was. The speech writer did well in terms of the words used, but Hillary as the messenger was painful to hear. She always looks mad and her smile looks fake as hell.
Anybody who's not enamored with her politics and says she is a great speaker is a lying butt head. Her best attribute as a speaker according to her is that she is a woman. Tell that to Margaret Thatcher and Michelle Obama who are both pretty darn good speakers, and it ain't because they're women!
2. Barack Obama
Obama was touted as a magnificent public speaker. I disagree. He was a run-of-the-mill speaker who successfully achieved "cool" status. The thing he did well was that he talked in small rhythmic chunks. So, if anything I guess he had some swagger and charisma, but that’s more of a personality trait that carried over into his persona as a speaker. With that being said, I didn’t find him very persuasive as a speaker. His passion and energy always felt contrived to me.
3. Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi may have helped move history with his ideas, but him as a speaker couldn’t move me out of a light sleep. He is articulate, he is smart, and he delivers his message extremely well, but as far as that making a great public speaker...my brain says no. That interpreter in the video though, sign him up!
4. Winston Churchill
Witty at times and he had some good words, but that doesn’t make a good speaker in my eyes. His monotonous tone makes me want to take a nap. He was a product of the times (WW2) and that’s the only reason any non-historian knows who he is today.
5. George Bush Sr.
He was articulate, I’ll give him that. His downfall is similar to Hillary Clinton’s in that there’s just something about his demeanor that rubs me the wrong way. Like there is so much anger that no amount of smiling can mask it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, he’s just not very likable.
6. Donald Trump
There is some mixed reactions to him as a speaker. Many say he is good, many say he is bad. I could just as easily write about him as being underrated, but for the sake of this article, I’ll go with the angle that he’s overrated.
The main reason many say he is a good speaker is that he doesn’t use political doublespeak. I agree that this is a refreshing thing, so I won’t argue it. I also think he has likability factors (some might disagree) such as humor and whit. The problems I have with him as a speaker are as follows:
- Distracting ninja-like hand gestures
- Repeats the same words which seem like a substitute for filler words (ah’s and um’s). He’d be better off pausing to think about his next words.
- Breathing becomes audibly distracting at times
Clean it up Donny, or YOU'RE FIRED!
Wrapping it up...
There you have it, a bunch of overrated speakers with wacky overrated scores.
If you throw crap at the wall enough, some is bound to stick. The moral is, don't perpetuate myths. Explore for yourself the next time you hear your grandma talk about how great a speaker somebody was. Chances are they're overrated like you're grandma's "famous" recipes.
Don't be an overrated reader. Be sure to share this post!
About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life and it can change yours, too. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.