Ivanka Trump, daddy’s girl

Ivanka Trump was happy when she spoke at the Republican National Convention, last July. Her voice was twangy and cheerful; she smiled, and she chuckled every time the crowd broke into hand-clapping and brawling – like, yes, her words were causing the desired effect. Her father would approve of her performance.


Ms. Trump spoke fast, very fast at times (up to 261 words per minute). She made long sentences (up to 20 words) and short pauses (down to 0.16 seconds).

Perhaps she didn’t want to weary her audience, especially in these days of short attention spans. Or perhaps she didn’t want to rob her father, the big star of the night, of stage-time.

The perception that this type of speech casts is that of an agreeable speaker. A speaker who wants to please her listener and who, at the same time, is ready to compromise and adapt her message to the likes or dislikes of her audience. A high self-monitor.

Political campaigns are all about self-monitoring – except for this one, where unfiltered comments by the candidate seem to be the norm. Usually, the politician keeps her ears on the crowd to see how she’s doing. That way, the politician fulfills the principle of “it’s all about them, not about me.”

However, in Ivanka Trump’s performance we heard a daughter speaking to please her dad, who happened to be behind the curtains and not seating in the audience.

She spoke about his greatness, his “iconic” buildings, his power and his values. And she uttered the phrase “my father” 25 times in 15 minutes [listen] – more than 1 time per minute.

So, the focus was “us” (the candidate and his cohort), not “you” or “them” (the audience). Therefore, Ms. Trump’s speech failed the first principle of political communication.


Ms. Trump sounded enthusiastic and dynamic. The ample difference between the highest (508 Hz) and deepest (148 Hz) tone of her voice projected the impression of a speaker who likes action more than thinking.

But because she didn’t go too deep, we perceived her as someone not prone to embracing risk. When a woman with a healthy voice, as Ms. Trump, hits a tone under 145 Hz, chances are that her voice will become unsteady and lose brightness and ring.

This also made us perceive Ms. Trump as self-conscious. She wanted to look and sound perfect, as the perfect daughter of the “people’s nominee.”


Mr. Trump’s daughter sounded empowered in a typically elite way. The way she emphasized certain words made her sound accustomed to asking and being given. If one needs only to raise a finger (or her voice) to be served a lemonade when she’s thirsty, she won’t develop persuasion skills. What would she need them for?

When she said things as, “As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place… [listen],” or  “But my father has made it a practice at his company… [listen],” or “A Trump presidency will turn the economy around… [listen],” her tone sounded more as a department-store announcement than as the enticing presentation of a candidate.

Instead of persuading the audience that her father was the best candidate, she just announced it, in hopes that, as usual for her, the sole announcement of her desires would make them a reality.

Kids often say, “My father’s car is bigger.” Ivanka said how just, fair and equal a world President Trump will achieve [listen].

Ms. Trump may belong to the 1% of the 1%, but she has her own (progressive) ideas.

2 thoughts on “Ivanka Trump, daddy’s girl

  1. Great analysis of Ivanka Trump’s performance at the Republican Convention from a linguistic perspective. Wonder if she’s into “power posing”?


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