What Communicators Can Learn from Duterte


Throughout history, we have had many great communicators who have literally brought people to their feet, brought the house down in laughter or reduced them to tears.  There are those world leaders who had rightly or wrongly, rallied the masses to submission, soothed people’s wounds, allay fears, or even gain consent for war.


When you think of great communicators, it will be amiss not to include strong leaders with personalities that are beyond abrasive or history that are beyond amusing. Hitler conscripted Germans to do his bid through his propaganda speeches.  Even in times of great turmoil, the tempestuous language of Winston Churchill inspired and got right down to the point.  Abraham Lincoln, despite his many political defeats, uttered triumphantly what came to be one of the world’s most succinct and most eloquent speeches, “Four scores and seven years ago…” Actor Ronald Reagan was called The Great Communicator because, ironically, he kept his language simple to get his audience on-board.


The recently-elected Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, is a mix of a lot of things interesting which to many are unacceptable,and yet, he is an effective communicator.  Like JFK, he tells it like it is and speaks passionately when it comes to crisis scenarios.  He may not be at war as Churchill was, but Duterte clearly outlines what needs to be done.  Like Regan, Duterte mirrors his audience and gets them to concur. 


TalkShop asks both students and professionals on what can be learned from his communication style.  In summary, there are four general observations:


     1. He exhibits self awareness, confidence, and integrity.


A leader knows his stuff, he comes ready for battle, he has wits in his pocket, information in his head, and carries genuine human emotions in his heart.


    2. He possesses humility and honesty that he brings out in all his speeches.


After all, a leader practices humility in his dealings and honesty that allows him to admit when he is wrong.


    3. He uses hyperbole and jokes.


Sadly, not everybody gets the hyperbole.  It reminds me of the then Countess of Sandwich who disliked Churchill’s foul comment.  She said that if married to him, she would poison his tea.  To which Churchill replied, “Madam, if I was married to you, I’d drink the damn tea!”


    4. He gets personal.


Before you try to dispute this, consider that his speeches were addressed to an audience who sympathize with him.  Also, take into account that he speaks strongly of matters that the audience find valuable and personal.





Of course many will agree that he could have toned down the expletives and avoided the tasteless jokes. Maybe the presidency will grow on him.  However, his staunch followers could not care less.  They hear in his speeches how he will tackle crimes that warrant the death penalty, on how he is willing to offer himself for a hostage swap, on his anger towards rapists and drug lords.


Throughout history, we have had many great communicators who have inspired us with their passion and commitment, honesty and wit.  They are the ones with the strong sensibility to connect to their core and speak from the heart.   Some of them lived honorably, others failed miserably.  Ultimately, their legacy as powerful communicators live on.


Researching and learning from history’s movers and shakers can help you plan different ways to approach your next engagement.  Learn from the styles of successful speakers.  And then be true to yourself by harnessing your personal style. TalkShop offers Public Speaking and Effective Communication Courses that are open to all.  Rather than just teaching you the rules of communication and expecting you to apply them, we take the unique approach to inspire you to develop your own style as a speaker, a presenter, and a storyteller. Arm yourself with the many language tools and communication techniques to set you on your way to success.

Posted by TalkShop
Sheila Viesca, TalkShop CEO and Director of Communication finished her bachelor degree in Literature, masters in Entrepreneurship, and doctorate in Applied Cosmic Anthropology. She designed the Philippines' Language Competency Benchmark for the Department of Education and pioneered Integrated Language Teaching (ILT) in workshop designs and corporate communication training. You can follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIN, and Google+


One Response to “What Communicators Can Learn from Duterte”

  1. Daphne Abegail Pomicpic

    Aug 10. 2016

    Good Day Ms. Sheila Viesca,

    I’m Daphne Abegail Pomicpic a student from the University of Makati. We’re making a study on how is Pres Duterte as a communicator, we would like to know more about how is Duterte resembles Ronald Reagan in communicating to the public? This is just for supporting our study, and we surely will acknowledge you as the key informant for this study.

    I look forward to your encouraging response. Thank you.

    Reply to this comment

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