Communications expert Ruth Sherman’s comments on the Democratic debate on November 14.


Polite debate. Generally respectful. Interesting compared with GOP, less exciting, which is a sad commentary on the state of our communication.

Clinton: Experience showed. She was smoothly not defensive when attacked, yet confidently forceful when others piled on.She answered slowly, modulating her rate of speech. Her vocal tone was lower and less nasal. She does not have a beautiful voice, but she has learned to make the most of what she has resulting in a good woman’s leadership voice. She also admitted some mistakes and a willingness to revisit other decisions. Her eye contact needs a lot of work, as she looks down and away when she’s thinking. This makes her look less certain and therefore contradicts her message and actually her newfound, confident sounding speaking voice.


O’Malley: He’s a very appealing communicator and speaker. This debate, he increased his vocal volume and variety, but I think he has to go further. He has a physical tic where he rises up on his toes when he wants to emphasize something. In my experience, this is limited exclusively to men and I always counsel them to monitor and eliminate it. One thing that started to bother me was a continuous and increased level of attacking with a smile, which took on a smugness that was unattractive. Closing statement was poorly written and executed.


Sanders: Body language is extremely distracting. Posture is hunched, shoulders raised, hand gestures ridiculous – he punctuates not just words, but syllables and because we articulate verbally faster than we gesture, his gestures are not in sync and in fact, late. Have none of his advisors told him this? His mouth grimaces and licks his lips constantly. His vocal volume was less consistently loud this debate, but still too one-note. If everything is important, nothing is important. As the debate wore on, he moderated even more and was, thus, more effective.

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