8 critical communication lessons from the 2016 presidential race

Microphone against a backdrop of the US flag

Here’s what we’ve learned so far, according to former news anchor and Templar consultant, Molly Falconer de Ramel: if you want to succeed in the presidential debates or in business generally, you need these eight best practice speaking tip takeaways.

  1. Authenticity matters. There’s no substitute for it. Whoever you are, be that. The best version of yourself. And when it really matters – turn the volume up to 11. Over-scripted Hillary – that’s why you are ‘feeling the Bern’ from Mr. Sanders.
  2. Say it, say it and say it again. Once you find a message that resonates with your audience, there’s no reason to stop saying it 10 different ways, within moderation. Use repetition with caution but remember the success of ‘The Donald’ with this approach.
  3. Energy. Enthusiasm makes the difference. You can be as brilliant and thoughtful as a neurosurgeon, but if the audience doesn’t perceive you as passionate, you can kiss their vote goodbye. Dr. Ben Carson, put down the Nyquil and pick up the mike.
  4. Be likeable. Your audience will often give you the benefit of the doubt, just for being there, willing to take a leadership role and speak. However, if you’re just not likeable, or can’t learn to be, you’re not going to win them over. Witness Senator Ted Cruz. He ticks all the boxes for conservatives, but many voters just can’t warm to him.
  5. Want to be there. People respect people who love what they do. And they can tell when someone just isn’t into it. Jeb Bush got off on the wrong foot when early on in the race when he actually verbalized he very well could and would want to be elsewhere. If you’ve seen his televised gaff, notice his body language as well. A tense candidate looked as if he wanted to run, far, far away.
  6. Be human. Show emotion. Mrs. Clinton, when you shed a tear in a New Hampshire diner, it was an emotional victory. I’m not saying crying will help –that gets uncomfortable – just show you’re not a talking robot. Smile, laugh, show pain, reveal triumph and authentic pride as appropriate.
  7. Tell the truth. If your native tongue is Portuguese and you’re presenting in English, cop to it. Say something like ‘I normally present in a different language,  so forgive me.’  Own it instead of launching into it. Your audience is going to detect this truth from your accent anyway.
  8. Be your own person. Note to Senator Marco Rubio: sticking to your talking points bombed. Your audience wants you to be straight with them, and tell it like it is. We know when you’re not speaking words you totally own  – and rather what your handlers clearly told you to say 20 minutes ago backstage.

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