I would argue vehemently that all top level American politicians put resources to augmenting their vocal effectiveness. They work at it. Every one of them since the second presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush in 1992 shows command of pace, tone and enunciation.
Mastery of oratorical skills depends on a combination of coaching and many, many hours of practice. Hillary Clinton is no different. The point of this piece is to point out where Hillary Clinton has stopped short. Where her training falls short. And her accomplishments as a speaker, so far, are nothing to be sneezed at.
She communicates the "What" of political issues and the "How" of democratic policies. She is clear. She listens well. Her voice avoids strident affect as well as the appearance of straining to make connections. She is a professional among politicians.
Thing is, she will be vulnerable to verbal parries and go-for-the-throat counterattacks for as long as she remains fundamentally ordinary in her overall effect. As "Granny Clinton" she is the no-brainer choice over any warmonger Republican. But so was Jimmy Carter in 1980. Ronald Reagan's line "There you go again!" was the election winner that November because Jimmy Carter had not connected with his audience. Carter had not learned to use his voice to reach people in their hearts.
The "Why" of human feelings and decision making are what matter.
That is, heart.
Great Female Speakers
Clinton is doing what she can to get there. Her public voice has lowered by about half an octave as compared with the 1980s. She maintains an even pace whatever the material. There is even a hint of a bell tone, a steady modulation inside her voice that supplies body for the sound quality during her public speeches.
Let's look at what the very best of this world have to offer.
Let's start with a speaker where very few in this audience will understand a word of what she is saying. Here is one young woman in China, speaking Mandarin. Things happen in Mandarin that do not happen quite the same ways in English. She speaks very quickly at times. Still, for quality of voice, for sharpness, for going over cliffs, for heart, for small explosions, behold....
By the 15 or 20 minutes mark, you should be getting a sense of what Chai Jing has done connecting with her audience and with China.
Then there is Emma Watson. "Hermione." Female lead in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." That Emma Watson. Her topic is not quite the life vs death poisoning of China's air. Close enough though: female equality. Standing up for women. At Davos:
Watson starts at the heart. She sells the emotions of her position, her arguments so that connection comes first. Again, the small vocal explosions make it work.
And then there's Sarah Palin. (Start at 3:50) Palin was on air for years as a sports reporter. She watched her tapes. If you ignore content this voice works, big time.
You don't have to like it. She spawned a following that endures through all manner of blunders. She finds people's hearts with this speech. No question about it.
Palin goes big. Her voice works same way as aggressive body language. She pushes a High-T testosterone overdose, a worship of domination.
As an added perk, want to penetrate The Base of Republican voters ??? Give thanks for Palin's crudeness, then apply the lessons she shows us in this video. The techniques and the appeals to heart that work for Palin should work equally for us.
For looks at where Hillary Clinton is and where she is going, follow below the fold. Yes, she needs to work on technique. I'll end by hitting two specific items.