Tag Archives: The TV debates

The TV debates. (10) Be yourself!

 This is the tenth and final lesson for our plucky contestants as they face up to the three-part reality show series starting on Thursday.  It may be stating the obvious but being yourself can easily get lost in the deluge of  ‘debate-prep’,  the  dry-run rehearsals and the  gaggle of Obama consultants.

Imagine absorbing advice from someone who:

“Showed Obama how to look smart without looking smug, how to look compassionate without being condescending, how to shed the appearance of being self-involved and arrogant and how to knit his brows and look as if he was concentrating intently as a  question was asked before changing his facial expression and relaxing the slight frown into a smile as he came up with the answer”.


Then imagine endless rehearsals in front of cameras with, for example Alistair Cambell  playing the part of David Cameron or a Jeremy Hunt, rumoured to be better than the real thing, playing the part of Nick Clegg.

Then imagine the ‘relentless revision’ on argument, counter argument and rebuff all against the research-led concept of not merely having to perform well against your rivals but  having to perform against expectations. Cameron apparently will be judged by a higher standard than his fellow debators.

Then throw in the nerves that will be jangling, even for these well prepared and seasoned tv performers, as they  meet in open combat for the first time and where one slip-up can lead to the fatal thumbs down from the baying viewers.  Now try being yourself.gladiators1

Yet this is what will count. Not the words but the ease and the naturalness of the body language.  As veteran American broadcaster Jim Lehrer said in the Observer:

 “A person is a person is a person.  You are who you are and that comes out in debates.”

The TV debate.(6) Pause for thought

As the debates draw ever closer, the Political WAGs are rolling up their sleeves for the SamCam(!) versus Sarah(my hero Gordon) show with only Mrs Clegg having the good grace to spare us more Jordan style intimacy.


Unfortunately for ‘Dave’ and Gordon they have to stand on their own feet  in front of the cameras,  presumably well rehearsed and probably bolstered by their experience of handling the cut and thrust of Prime Minister’s question time. Easy compared to the over-regulated  debate?

Perhaps not. In trying to prove themselves with their grasp of policy and desparate to score points over their rivals in front of the viewing millions they run the risk of being seen to try too hard, being too clever and too rushed.

What can be seen as witty and wounding in Question time will be seen as less than likeable  in this civilised debate. It will also look less than confident.

In any pitch, when adrenaline is high, one of the things that undermines the appearance of confidence is rushing  to get started, to move from one point to the next, to reply to a question.


The solution is simple.                Pause.                  Pause.                   Pause and you will look confident.                Pause             for               thought.

Recent television appearances indicate that Clegg who has naturally easy body language  has the confidence to pause and to look like a leader.  Still my tip for winner in the debates.