Like many voters, particularly democrats, I was very frustrated with President Obama’s performance in the first Presidential debate. I still don’t understand what happened exactly. One thing I know for sure, his coaches didn’t do their jobs. As a media training coach myself I take the performance of my clients’ to heart. I don’t settle until they are settled. I am hoping that in the last two weeks President Obama’s coaches have gone back to the drawing board and helped candidate Obama rekindle the fire that drew us, the American public, to him 4 years ago. But just in case there is room for one more cook in the Presidents’ debate kitchen, in anticipation of the second Presidential debate I’m offering my ten cents. Here are ten guidelines I would give President Obama if he were my media training client.
1. Face your opponent head on. Don’t give him power by turning your gaze away. Look at him when he is talking, Don’t ever look away. He isn’t someone you have to be afraid of so you don’t need to look down, out or away. Don’t just turn your head give your opponent a little bit of your body. A casual stance. You are graciously giving him time, but it is no sweat off of your back. Nothing you are worried about.
2. When it is your turn to speak remember you are speaking to the American people first nad foremost. You can and should include your opponent in your conversation but your main focus is through the camera to the American people who need to hear from you. Look through the lens and talk directly to them.
3. Use your hands. Everyone has a different fingerprint of learning. As such everyone has a different way of listening. Many listen with their eyes even more than their ears. And facial expressions don’t always provide enough details or nuance for them to really feel your point. Don’t be afraid to put your body into it.
4. Don’t write notes. Writing notes makes you look like a student. If you must write something down do so imperceptibly without looking down at the paper. Keep your head up. You’ve got this. The American people are looking for an unflappable leader, not a student. That’s who you are. Be who you are in full not a fraction.
5. Stay within your time, especially if your opponent doesn’t. You aren’t competing against him you are competing against yourself. You have to be the best Barack Obama not better than your opponent. He doesn’t rate a comparrisson. You know what the issues are. You know what your plan is. Don’t get dragged into a contest trying to match wits. You don’t have to explain yourself to your opponent because you don’t owe him anything other than basic human respect. You are the President of the United States. It’s your job, now keep it.
6. Every time your opponent says something that you believe is an untruth do something physical. The same thing every time. Train your audience to know when he is lying without you having to point it out verbally. Touch your tie. clasp your hands, tilt your head, something. Be consistent. Your audience will understand at least on a subliminal level. People like visual cues. They provide direction. Give your audience direction. Bottom line is if you waste too much time arguing with what you believe to be lies being said by your opponent you won’t have enough time to tell your truths. Don’t get pulled over into oncoming traffic just because the car behind you is swerving. Keep your focus forward on your path.That’s what will keep us, the American people, your passengers, safe.
7. If you can’t think of the word you want to say don’t put your chin down, don’t stutter, don’t look to the sky and search for the words. Instead put a finger to your lips, earnestly close your eyes, collect the thought and then reopen with a very direct gaze and answer. You can’t do this a lot or it will loose it’s effectiveness, but when you do do it, you will bring your audience into pinpoint focused attention on your words.
8. Light a fire in your eyes. Don’t shoot death rays at your opponent, but you can let your passion,and commitment burn intensely through your gaze. The trick is not to knit your brow in a frown. Keep those brows relaxed and you won’t seem angry, desperate, or worse, defeated .
9. Ask your audience a question. Remind us that we are a part of this discussion, it’s not just theatre. Look dead center into the camera and ask us something. Then actively listen to our answer with your eyes. If you believe we will too.
10. If you ever feel testy just chuckle. Lightly but with an easy smile. It will calm you down and put your opponent off kilter.
Though I am staunchly Democrat my suggestions have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with communication. I approach every client this way, with a detailed assessment of their goals and their objectives, and then plot a course of action to utilize their strengths and counter their weaknesses to achieve. It’s what you should look for in a media trainer whether you are the President of the United States or the President of your home office. Everyone deserves solid guidance.
Good luck Mr President. I’ll be watching and listening intently.
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV, Wearetherealdeal.com, YoungChicagonista, and TheChicagoMoms.com. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, TOUT and LinkedIn.