This week, we discussed the readings of Charismatic Rhetoric in 2008 Presidential Campaign and Construction: A Reassessment of the “Feminine Style”. The first reading discussed the characteristics of charismatic leadership which are as follows: confidence, goal orientation, inspirational, optimistic, and caring. We discussed that inspirational and confidence were two very important out of the list because in order to be defined as a leader, you must motivate or inspire others to be your followers. You need followers to lead. Confidence is key for making yourself appear put together, ready, and attentive. People will trust in someone who trusts him/herself.
Audience is important when discussing charisma. To who you are addressing plays a major role in the delivery and language of your speech. Audience will shape the way we conduct ourselves in situations. Sometimes, to address an audience so that they feel you are one of them, you have to establish that you are part of their community by using pronouns like “we” “us” and “our” as well as sharing experiences that may relate to your intended audience. An audience can also be invoked to take a stand or participate in some action. Action is the movement towards the attainment of vision. Adversity is articulating why the action is necessary and inevitable. Both of these contribute to the urgency that speakers create when they are addressing issues they are passionate about. Lyndon B. Johnson put out the “Daisy” ad in 1964 where a little girl is counting the petals on a daisy and then in her eyes, a nuclear bomb explodes and wipes everything out in front of her. The narrating voice claims “we must stand together or we must die,” invoking the audience to act fast. The sense of urgency can be established through the exaggeration of events and their effects.
Another way that speakers can cater to their audience is by providing them with some intangible goals and aspirations. These goals are based on what the people wish to see change, but the politician or speaker knows that these changes are a bit unrealistic. The example of Donald Trump’s wall was mentioned in class. On a less political note, it was related to elementary school student council campaigns. Usually, children will promise more recess time and less homework and ice cream in the cafeteria. A little boy in a video clip won by promising Hawaiian days and ice cream and pizza.
The other piece discussed focuses on the difference in both the “manly” and “feminine” styles. While the “manly” style is described as “factual, analytic, organized and impersonal,” (337) the “feminine” style was described as “personal, organized in…non-linear patterns, stylized and ornamental, reliant on anecdotes and examples and likely to encourage identification between a speaker and an audience” (339).
These characteristics are associated with being either “manly” or “feminine” because of the traditional roles and expectations of women and men in the daily American life. However, there is overlap, for the definitions of manly and feminine are in a constant state of change. We are defining and redefining the world and perceptions around us. A strong example the reading calls the audience’s attention to is The Man from Hope, which is the story of the personal life of Bill Clinton. While he was praised and welcomed for his ability to express his emotions and feelings about his life, Hillary was being knocked down for stepping the boundaries and being analytical and “manly”. When running for senate, her campaign producers said that she needed to be more in touch with her wife and mother role. But when Bill went from “manly” to “feminine” to produce his film, he was praised and glorified for his ability to be so raw.
It appears that the audience definitely has a role in shaping the way we promote our public image and address them directly.