How Ivanka Has Changed The Way She Speaks Over The Years — & What It Means

Ivanka Trump has been in the media for as long as we can remember. (She even appeared on the cover of my very first Seventeen magazine back in 1997.) If only we had known that she would go on to become part of the most scandal-plagued administration in U.S. history.

If you've caught her old interviews on TV, or watched The Apprentice episodes she guest-stars in, you've undoubtedly noticed that the first daughter and White House senior advisor used to speak very differently. Whether it's a product of coaching or a personal choice (and experts say it's likely both), there's been a marked change in her voice's tone, pace, and even her vocabulary.


In her ABC News interview on Wednesday, in which she defended her use of a personal email server for White House business, people on Twitter noticed that her voice sounds more raspy than usual, adding yet another wrinkle to the voice mystery.

We asked a couple of public-speaking experts — including one whose tips Ivanka recommends on her own website — to find out the story behind her vocal changes and what it means in terms of her evolution from socialite to government official.

Read their takes ahead.


Back in 2003, 21-year-old Ivanka starred in a documentary called Born Rich, which was all about what it's like to be young and extremely wealthy. In it, her voice sounds flatter and scratchier than it does today.

"Everyone has a natural voice. Her voice itself has not changed," Anett Grant, CEO of Executive Speaking, Inc. (to whose article Ivanka's site links from its "Guide to Public Speaking"), told Refinery29. "What's changed is the way she's using it."

Today, Grant explained, Ivanka's tone sounds "rounder" because she's learned how to use her breath to support her voice so that it comes out louder — and more confident. "When you're young and less secure, you have a tighter sound."

In her 2007 appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Ivanka sounded more relaxed and at ease with being interviewed. "Her voice had a rough smokiness to it here," Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, told Refinery29. "And her presentation made it clear that she was expecting a humorous response."

Wood emphasized that Ivanka hasn't just changed her voice over the years; she's changed her "paralanguage," which includes pitch, volume, intonations, gestures, and facial expressions. In 2007, her delivery had less energy and was less fast-paced than it is today.

Nine years later, Ivanka addressed the 2016 Republican National Convention, introducing her father. "Everything about her image is much more polished and 'straight up-and-down,' rather than sensual, like in the Conan interview," Wood said. "It's a conscious effort on her part to present herself as more educated, sophisticated, and formal."

As part of this effort, she's started enunciating her words more and has almost stopped using contractions. "We tend to not use contractions when we're overly conscious or when we're being deceptive," Wood noted.

Grant said: "The big evolution — and it was particularly pronounced in her speech at the convention — is that her sound is richer and rounder now, and she doesn't have those drop-offs where it gets scratchy."

In this recent interview with Fox Business Network, Ivanka responds to Samantha Bee calling her a "feckless c---" on her show Full Frontal.

"This interview was very well-rehearsed and she had her talking points prepared," said Wood. "Her delivery was fascinating because she was indignant. There was a lot of energy behind it. We haven't seen that aspect of her before."

Grant said that Ivanka is far more comfortable with her voice now. "We were all born with a big sound — babies are loud, right? — and over time we learn to constrict our voice," she said. "But when we become more comfortable in the limelight, we relax, and then our sound comes out in a natural way."
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