Rand Paul, the natural challenger

Some speakers are more transparent than others, in terms of how their voices uncover some traits of their personality.

Rand Paul’s voice seems to be a clear reflection of his personality, character, and leadership style. In his case, the traits his vocal behavior casts are all in the sphere of the type A personality: goal-oriented, born leader, strong-willed, competitive, and courageous.

Senator Rand Paul Presidential Announcement Speech (C-SPAN)


Choleric characters can’t relax. Neither can Mr. Paul’s throat. His voice sounds weak and narrow, and gets harsh [listen] when he emphasizes a word or a phrase. The reason: his vocal folds are so tight that only a small current of air blows between them. Too tight vocal folds, in addition, produce uncommonly high pitched voices. In the example shown below, Mr. Paul utters “too often” [listen] with a tone up to 369 Hz – that’s far beyond the common male voice range, typically from 85 to 180 Hz.

Spectrogram of the phrase
Spectrogram of the phrase “too often” uttered by Mr. Paul with a pitch (blue line) up to 369 Hz – the typical male voice is around 120 Hz.

Other traits found in choleric characters are self-sufficiency and a strength that can be viewed as a certain haughtiness. Those traits also percolate his speech.

Some of his messages sound as a “rebuke,” like dad telling baby, no, no, baby did something wrong [listen]. But because he’s addressing adults, two perceptions arise. First, that he believes he’s right and people who think differently are wrong. And second, that he’s a bossy kind of leader with a very clear idea of where to go and of how things must be done – he’s self-sufficient.

And, like all self-sufficient individuals, he doesn’t need approval. Thus, he doesn’t need to track the public’s reaction to his words, since nothing he could receive from the audience would change his plans: I’ll say this and that, this and that way. He believes his words to be “loud and clear” [listen], so everybody will understand his message.


When Mr. Paul speaks, he can’t wait. He has something to say and wants to say it right away. He’s functional: for him, things are whether useful, or worthless. Substance is useful, emptiness is not. Words are substance, and pauses are not – pauses are silence.

Mr. Paul rushes his words and can’t stand silence. His pauses are too short and he speaks too fast when he considers the content unimportant. He pronounces up to 217 words per minute – the average of 9 studied TED talks was 163 words per minute.

This time-urgency appears in the intonation he uses when he tells stories – the unimportant stuff. For example, when he chronicles his experience as an eye surgeon in a mission to Guatemala [listen], he talks like he longs to get soon to the end of such an annoying burden – why tell a story, he might think. He might think storytelling is overvalued, but, out of discipline, he accepts his advisers’ counsel – ok, if it worked for Obama, it’ll work for me – and tries. So, there he goes, one word after another, now pause, now breathe, talk, stop.


Overall, he does what he’s got to do because he’s got a goal to achieve, and goal-oriented minds know some tasks are but necessary when success is all we accept. It’s his strong resolution that gives him the courage to try. Body language? Body language. Storytelling? Storytelling. Emphasize? Emphasize. He’s ready to loose a battle, if that makes him win the war.

And he’s so driven by his high-level long-term goal, that his speech sounds almost messianic [listen] when he speaks about it: the future of America with him as its President [listen]. Those messages ooze the passion of his certainty that his is the right way to go and he is the right leader to drive Americans there.

Will Republicans follow him?

2 thoughts on “Rand Paul, the natural challenger

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