Tag Archives: radio

Body language fit for television? Or radio only?

It was back in the early sixties that television started changing the game for aspiring politicians. Success was less a function of clever policies  and more a function of good looks, good hair and good body language.  JFK , in the first  television debates out scored ‘sweaty’ Nixon among viewers. The listening radio audience preferred Nixon.


Which of today’s stars are grateful this is the age of television?   David Cameron, Bob Crowe (formidable, Alex Ferguson without the gum)  Boris Johnson, Tony Blair, Nick Clegg (without television there would be no Clegg as we now know him or indeed a Coalition).


And which must regret that radio is no longer mainstream? Ed Milliband, David Milliband, George Osborne, Ed Balls (better unseen but still bullying) and of course Gordon Brown (he of the velvet voice).

One of the characterisics shared by the television groupies is Cameron’s  knack of being seen as ‘comfortable in his own skin’. They are able even under intense public scrutiny to express themselves as naturally as they do in normal  conversation with the same animated body language.

All of the  radio heads  would benefit from some wise words of Olivia Mitchell :The 5-step cure for boring body language

Gordon Brown. Better heard than seen? Discuss.

Gordon Brown has survived a hellish week  riding on the sympathy  wave following The Sun’s brutal and misjudged attack over that letter. One interview during the week showed him at his best. It was on radio.

In this television age, when would-be politicians are assessed on camera before getting the candidacy, Brown is not a natural. When looks count – his clumsy body language (think Despatch box), jaw movement, fatigued expression – he has little going for him. You almost feel sorry.

POLL Brown 182845

His voice, however, even when under pressure, remains strong, reassuring, warm even, and authorative. More like a confident leader. If there was a choice he would surely opt for the up-coming TV debate with Cameron to be on radio only.

He will no doubt be aware of the outcome of the first ever televised Presidential debate, in 1960,  when Nixon confronted Kennedy.  A Gallup poll among viewers revealed that Kennedy came out on top. However, in the same poll among those who only heard the debate on radio Nixon was preferred.

Brown does not look as shifty as Nixon but nor does the camera favour him as it does Cameron.

In business pitches the importance of voice and tone is often overlooked. Changing one’s voice is seen as too tough (although Margaret Thatcher did it to good effect).  What will help, and can be  rehearsed, is change of ‘pitch and pace’, with deliberate pauses …….. to punctuate and command attention.

Try it , pause………and sound more confident!