Monday, September 03, 2012
Preaching to the choir: Conventionspeak
Hi, all - thanks to Danny Markel for welcoming me back to prawfsblawg.
So, it's convention season. One last week, one this week. The media covers the conventions, the speeches, plays snippets and then reports "reactions" and "responses" complete with some kind of statistics as to the candidates "standing" in the polls following the speech.
Some of us teach persuasive speech as a component to oral advocacy. What speeches do we use as illustration - MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Lincoln's Gettysburg address , etc. I recently used Obama's inauguration speech. These partisan convention speeches made (somewhat) available to the general public are being touted as "persuasive," to the extent that the audience is listening to candidates and their supporters say things with which the audience already agrees. Really, when the audience is already on board these speeches are not persuasive, then, are they? Does anyone find convention speeches useful for study and practice on the topic of oral advocacy? Curious to hear your views.
Posted by DBorman on September 3, 2012 at 02:24 PM | Permalink
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I wouldn't assume that the speeches are made just to "those who agree". They're broadcast on TV for the world to see. I, at least, watched Mitt Romney's speech without agreeing with most of what he said (when he said anything at all).
Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Sep 4, 2012 3:12:56 PM
Oh, I meant that the audience members present in the convention centers are all on board with the speakers. The first-level, direct, live audience is the actual intended (congregation) audience. I was not referring to the second level observer television broadcast audience, which is an entirely different matter altogether.
Posted by: DBorman | Sep 4, 2012 10:10:41 PM
I think conventions give supporters some of their best punch and confirmation of view lines. So yes, those are forms of oral advocacy. For example, supporters can then go out and persuade people more effectively. And a few people may learn what Obamacare means (it's about time - one of Obama's biggest failures is selling it, b/c the substance is good). So that could convert some undecideds. I'm loving the theater!
Posted by: Dan | Sep 4, 2012 10:27:40 PM
I find the conventions informative, despite the fact that most people have their votes predetermined. For instance, until something I learned today about Mitt Romney (via social media), I had disliked him somewhat less (due to the effectiveness of his wife's speech). Do the conventions have the ability to sway undecided voters,however? Not sure.
Posted by: Sharone | Sep 5, 2012 11:32:46 AM
For the most part, I agree the speeches are preaching to the choir. I see such a speech as persuasive to some extent because it's meant to motivate the base to get out the vote and, as noted above, does provide some highlights for them to try to persuade others. Whether what we've heard so far would persuade undecided voters is less clear. It probably depends on what the voter is undecided about. The PBS analysis last night said former President Clinton is the Democratic speaker whose main task will be bringing in independents. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.
Posted by: Lisa M. Lilly | Sep 5, 2012 12:57:55 PM
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