Presidential Debate

Source: USA Today

I was going to write a post about the role that hand gestures can play in getting your key message across to your audience. I was so excited to find this link about Obama and Romney’s most-often used hand gestures and how voters can draw conclusions about political candidates based on body language. It’s an important skill for any public speaker.

But after watching that debate last night, I feel much more focused on the glaring difference between Romney’s energy and Obama’s rather sleepy, almost uninterested demeanor. It’s like they were in two different time zones. When I work with clients, I often describe the importance of personal presence by using the famous line from the movie The Graduate. The older, wiser Mr. McGuire pulls young Ben aside to give him advice. He says, “I just want to say one word to you. Are you listening? Plastics.” In the world of great public speaking, the one word is energy. Romney had it and Obama lost it.

Audiences want to know that you are fully present and invested in your role as speaker. Why else would they give you their valuable time, let alone their one vote for the highest office in the land? Romney delivered on that promise (despite the fact that once again, he chose not let prior beliefs, platforms or declarations get in the way of what he thinks we want to hear).

Obama’s energy and delivery were so flat that after 40 minutes I started yelling at the TV. I wished I could put on one of those TV producer head sets and talk into his earbud and say, “Where are you right now? Don’t you see what’s coming at you? Oh, right, you can’t because you keep looking down!”

Whatever your political persuasion on this day, let’s learn from last night’s debate and commit to showing up fully and expressing ourselves in an authentic and meaningful way. For example, check out Chris Matthew’s reaction to the debate. I think that’s a good example of authentic expression.

– Barbara

Barbara Roche