The real problem with Melania Trump's speech

20 July 2016

The focus of publicity around Melania Trump’s speech has been all about possible plagiarism, but I saw another major problem with it that’s just as serious.

This was a great opportunity for her to tell us about Donald Trump ‘the man’. Many see him as a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. They see him as harsh and self-centred.

The message in Melania’s speech should have been to challenge this perception. She did touch on this, but she never backed up her points with even one story or example. She told us he fights for things, that he’s an amazing leader, and that he’s loyal and caring.

That’s all very well but for people to believe and remember these points, they need to be backed up with interesting examples and stories. Her speech was totally abstract.

For example, when she told us he was loyal, she needed to tell us a story about a time when he was totally loyal as a husband or father. That would make the point concrete and memorable. It would show us another side of Donald Trump. But instead, she just gave us abstract statements that could have come from anyone.

As someone close to him, this was a great opportunity to show us the warmer side of her husband.

So why didn’t she?

There can be only three possible reasons why this didn’t happen. Firstly, that there aren’t any examples or stories to tell? Or did the Trump campaign team fail to recongise this opportunity and take advantage of it? Or thirdly, did Melania or her husband ignore this advice? Either way, it was a major opportunity lost.

Preparing for a speech is similar to a media interview. You need to work out what points to get across. These must be limited to about three. Where a speech is different is the need to back up every point with interesting stories. That's the only way to cement the point in people's memories. This where Melania failed miserably.

On a positive note, she delivered the speech well. The problem was the content.

If you want to grow your confidence with the media or refresh your skills, go to and download my free report, “The Five Steps to Pain-Free Media Interviews."

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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