Reading an AI-generated speech as if you were human: Auchincloss and ChatGPT

I don’t mind who or what wrote your speech. But please, read it like a human.

Late last month, US politician Jake Auchincloss scored a few headlines when he claimed to be the first person in Congress to deliver a speech entirely written by artificial intelligence.

ChatGPT did a good-enough job on the text. No surprise there.

But Mr Auchincloss’s delivery was awful. And therein lies the lesson for any aspiring public speaker. No matter who actually wrote your speech, if you deliver it poorly, you’ll sound little better than a robot yourself.

Here are a few timeless public speaking tips for Mr Auchincloss and anyone else who has to read a text, be it generated by chatbots or accomplished speechwriters.

Know your opening line off by heart.  ChatGPT’s introduction is clear and tells us immediately why we’re here. That’s already an improvement over many public speakers who fumble with a lazy introductory “So…” or waste our time telling us how happy they feel to be addressing us. But instead of establishing eye contact with his audience, Mr Auchincloss wastes those first critical seconds by reading his opening words from the script: “Mr Speaker, I stand here today because I am planning to re-introduce the United States-Israel Artificial Intelligence Center Act.”

Even a human could memorize that.


Keep your sentences short. Both ChatGPT and Mr Auchincloss got this wrong. Long sentences are difficult to read, and therefore more difficult to understand. If your chatbot or speechwriter have given you run-on sentences sprawling across many lines, cut them into two.

Mr Auchincloss’s first sentence is a case in point: “Mr Speaker, I stand here today because I am planning to re-introduce the United States-Israel Artificial Intelligence Center Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will cement a mutually beneficial partnership between the United States and Israel on artificial intelligence research.” Not very difficult to reformulate the second half as a new sentence: “This bipartisan piece of legislation will cement….”


Pause. This is purely the fault of Mr Auchincloss. ChatGPT’s sentences may be long, but at least they are punctuated. Mr Auchincloss doesn’t draw any distinction between a comma and a full stop.

Once you have your speech in hand, before delivery I recommend you take a pen and mark key pauses throughout. This has many merits. Between sentences, a pause gives you time to breathe, and look at your audience. In the middle of a sentence, it can focus attention on a single word. After a phrase, it can suggest that what you have just heard is momentous, requiring a moment to digest. At any moment, a silence will force your audience looks up from their phones or their navels, to see why you halted.

And, with just a hint of histrionics, try pausing sometimes as if looking for the right word. It imparts an engaging sense of – how can I say this – spontaneity? I call it the artifice of authenticity. It might keep us one step ahead of the bots a little while longer.


Charles Fleming, 6th February 2023