The US election is hotting up nicely with the infamous live televised debates. Daunting, to say the least, they are pitching at it’s rawest. Since the first one forty years ago, a disaster for sweating Nixon against the charisma of Kennedy, only Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton have truly mastered them.
As one pollster said all the campaign work and poll leads can be “wiped out in seconds”. No wonder the candidates went into training. Obama spent four days in special “debate camp” in Florida sparring with litigation lawyers. McCain’s sparring partner was a champion debating coach from a televangelist university.
They went head to head last week and most commentators felt Obama scored a narrow victory. In the Sunday Times, in Focus, they rated the performances on:
(1) MASTERY OF POLICY. (2) REBUTTING OPPONENT. (3) BODY LANGUAGE. (4) ADAPTABILITY. (5)LIKEABILITY. (6) TONE. (7) GAFFE AVOIDANCE. (8) HUMOUR.
Interestingly, only one of these, mastery of policy, relates purely to content or substance. This is in line with the take-out effect of communication described in Best Practice Guide, Content and Staging ( …looking at the relative effect of verbal, and non-verbal communication, only 8% is purely verbal !)
As ever, not so much what you say, as the way you say it.