Many, including me, tipped Nick Clegg to win the debate. After all, as the ousider with less to lose and the fresher face he had everything going for him. None however anticipated the scale of his victory which was down to performance not policies.
There are many things he got right in front of the cameras but two in particular stand out and are pointers to all who pitch or interview.
All three no doubt can be charming company but only Clegg charmed on air. He resisted the temptation to say too much under pressure of the clock, he did not rush to answer as if in a race, he paused to think, he listened-and was seen to listen- to questioners whose names he remembered.
He, more than his rivals, realised that in this debate viewers would not find it easy to take in, let alone evaluate, the content. So less worried about what to say, he made certain that we liked the way he said it. His relaxed body language and his easy eye contact with the camera/viewer set him apart.
” Nonchalantly hands in his pockets and with his humanity beautifully rehearsed and turned up to the max”. This is how the MoS summed it up.
2. A great opening.
Clegg made that old adage work for him, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ He knew that a strong opening not only gets the audience on side it makes you feel good, boosting your confidence from word go. It worked and put the others on the back foot.
A cleverly worded opener, which he wrote himself, positioned him as if above his squabbling rivals. “Don’t let anyone tell you that the only choice is the old politics. We can do something different this time.”
From the start his words and his manner, calm, fresh and engaging meant he came across as different and better. Not a bad outcome which must have pleased John Starkey his campaign director. When at Saatchi his mantra for assessing communication was how is it different, how is it better?