For more than a generation the answer to that question was always Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the complete package. Movie star looks, calm, stately demeanor and actually a man of few, but highly quotable words with one-liners like “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall” or “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose your job.” His brand was approachable toughness and that carried him through many a rough moment over his two terms. But The Great Communicator? I would suggest that title goes to someone else: Donald J Trump.
For many it’s impossible to separate their emotional reaction to the message from the ability to convincingly deliver it. Let’s start off by saying for going on six years it has been hard not to listen to the man. The press’ admitted love-hate relationship rarely hides the fact that left or right, progressive or conservative, they can’t help showcasing the guy. And the periodic calls to ignore him almost always lose steam as revenue in the media is based on commanding eyes and ears to programing and advertising. So, chalk a big one up for Trump’s ability to seize the mic and the spotlight almost at will. But it goes much deeper and he is in fact a much more skilled communicator. If we go through the list of universally acknowledged important traits of the best Communicators you will see President Trump moves to the head of the class. Time and time again it’s been asked why he doesn’t want to broaden his appeal by softening his tone as a communicator. By now we should all know that it’s not his desire. He is the self-appointed king of his own world and his kingdom is hangs on his every word.
When we examine some of the fundamentals of what it takes to be a Great Communicator such as Knowing Your Audience, Empathy, Consistency, Proactiveness, and Directness, you begin to see how he gets through to an audience that idolizes him.
Let’s start with Know Your Audience. Absolutely no one knows their audience better than Trump. He has a societal sixth sense when it comes to his audience and he is a great listener when it comes to their insecurities. That understanding allows him to push their emotional buttons almost at will. Trump may not be known for his Empathy per se, which is an important trait of a Great Communicator, but again within the minds of his audience he understands their feeling that “America is being taken away from them,” so in that regard he is empathetic to those emotions.
In terms of Consistency, no one can argue that he believes every word he says and does so with relentless repetitiveness. So much so that most of his speeches consist of echoing familiar crowd driven chants and what observers call his “greatest hits.”
When it comes to being Proactive, his audience believes that he has the right answers to return to a “better time” and certainly no one could argue with his direct approach to saying whatever comes into his mind. That Directness is also highlighted by his ability to defy the norms and take his message directly to his audience with the power of social media and a cadre of likeminded broadcasters who echo his perspectives.
It’s often hard for us to separate the communication from the Communicator, but it would be wrong to not give credit where it’s due when it comes to one’s ability to make a connection and deliver that message. And while Progressives continue to decry the dangers of Trump’s messages, they are secretly jealous they do not have as powerful a message or a Great Communicator like Donald J Trump.