Bill Clinton’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention was a master class in public speaking. I did not appreciate just how impressive his speech was until I read about the excellent investigate work that freelance writer Dashiell Bennett did in The Atlantic Wire.
For me, the rhetorical highlight of the convention was Bill Clinton’s speech. Love him or hate him, Clinton is a masterful speaker. I knew that on the evening of his speech, he ad-libbed a lot; however, I did not realize how much until now.
Prior to the speech, journalists received the text of what he was (supposedly) going to say. Bennett has taken the written text and compared it with what Clinton actually said. The result can be seen by clicking on the image of the marked up transcript excerpt below.
It is a bit of a read, but even if you only skim it, you can see from the highlighting the amount of on-the-spot cutting and improvising that Clinton did. Remarkable, and the mark of a brilliant speaker. (Green represents what was added and pink represents what was removed.)
Bill Clinton’s speech is an example of how experienced speakers can be fully present with the audience when on stage. They know their script so well that they can seamlessly deviate from it and then come back to it.