It was easier to watch Trump and Biden during the second presidential debate. But how did they sound? - Baltimore


Oct. 23, 2020 5:40 pm

It was easier to watch Trump and Biden during the second presidential debate. But how did they sound?

VoiceVibes put its AI speech coaching platform to work during the second presidential debate. Both candidates sounded more polished this time.
Trump and Biden on the debate stage, Oct. 22, 2020.

Trump and Biden on the debate stage, Oct. 22, 2020.

(Photo via CNN)

Like so much in 2020, the presidential debate season has been a tumultuous affair. The first contest between President Donald Trump and former VP Joe Biden was rendered unwatchable at many points, and the second didn’t even happen as a face-to-face showdown.

But the last one looked more like a debate, as crack moderating from journalist Kristen Welker and the looming threat of a mute button appeared to keep the interruptions at bay. On the day after Thursday night’s rendezvous in Nashville, most analysis is taking the more typical look at who won and what it means for the election.

It wasn’t only better fodder for pundits. For Baltimore speech coaching startup VoiceVibes, the more measured affair provided a better chance to analyze the candidates’ tone and persuasiveness. As it did with the first affair, the team puts its platform to work evaluate the vibes the hopefuls were giving off as speakers. The platform looks at how speakers sound, rather than analyzing the content of what they say.

This time around, CEO Debra Bond Cancro said there was more to analyze with fewer interruptions.

“In the first debate, we didn’t analyze anything where there was any two-way conversation. We just gave up,” Cancro said. But in Thursday night’s event, there were “five of the segments where we uploaded not only the two-minute individual responses, but five of the back-and-forth segments. We actually got reasonable information out of those.”

Cancro also noted that the speakers got about the same time at the mic, so there was a pretty even ground on which to analyze.


With clearer lines, the candidates got better on vocal delivery, which is a category analyzing how professional and polished they sounded. Often it’s used to evaluate whether a listener would be willing to engage or even buy from a speaker —an area in which the always-selling POTUS undoubtedly has some experience.

VoiceVibes uses AI to generate a score on how a speaker sounds to an audience. While Trump had a slightly higher score overall in this category, a main takeaway was that both candidates’ averages went way up. So the bar was higher this time around.

“They were both significantly better,” Cancro said. “Trump went from 6.4 to an 8.4 as an average, so he had a big jump.”

Biden’s best vocal delivery was on immigration, a topic on which he also posted the best marks for confidence. Trump posted his best vocal delivery during the segment on race in America, while he had the most confidence in healthcare.

As far as where the candidates can improve, both could’ve used a better start when it came to vocal delivery. On the first topic, which was COVID-19, the candidates both had their lowest scores. Cancro said the software’s analysis showed that Biden could’ve used a few more pauses as he spoke, while Trump was simply talking too fast.

When it came to sounding confident and authentic, Trump had the better of the vibes in a majority of categories. Check out the scorecard below:

A chart shows results of analysis on Trump and Biden’s confidence and authenticity. (Courtesy image)


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