Ask Men’s Fitness: “Donald Trump always sounds confident, which—regardless of his politics—seems to really work for him. How does he (and could I) do that?”
You don’t have to share the Donald’s views to learn from his rhetoric, says communications expert Michelle Courtney Berry. She calls the key to his debate dominance “his way of exuding confidence.” There are about five key techniques he uses, she says:
1. Speak with authority
Trump always seem to speak with authority, even on subjects he may not be an expert in, Berry says. That projects a sense of confidence, even on unfamiliar territory.
2. Rarely admit to being wrong
This doesn’t always work, but when you can pull it off, it can create an aura of strength, Berry says.
When historians questioned a plaque calling a Trump golf course a bloody Civil War battle site, he said, “Write your story the way you want…But many people were shot. It makes sense.”
3. Call out the haters
Shift the conversational focus off criticism and onto critics. About the Civil War historians, Trump said: “How would they know that— were they there?”
4. Catch them by surprise
You could try using “apophasis,” or saying something you said you wouldn’t—like, “I’m not going to call him a lightweight because that’s a derogatory term.”
5. Repeat Key Phrases
By firing off short, pointed phrases (“What are we doing? Why aren’t they paying us? Why aren’t they paying us? What are we doing?”), which can pack a punch and come across as fact, not opinion.