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The Political Season Is a Great. . .

0Time to Observe Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.

The political season is a great time to observe public speaking and presentation skills.

Although the election date isn’t until November 8, 2016, campaigning has already begun!

The debates have started. Candidate interviews, formal and informal, are taking place multiple times daily.

Both parties, special interest groups, and individuals are looking for positive soundbites from their candidate and negative ones from the competition and opposition.

Stump speeches are being delivered at state fairs, town hall meetings, and smaller gatherings. Q&A is usually part of each event, and candidates should be well prepared to provide answers. If the media isn’t attending, you can bet someone is recording the happening with their camera or cell phone and, often, posting it online.

More than ever, interviews and debates are being scrutinized, really scrutinized! Talking points are placed on the television screen almost as soon as the candidate, or their representative, speaks. Commentary on what they said and how they said it is almost 24/7. Fact checking is almost instant.

When a candidate, or any speaker, says something, their are two components to their talk:

  1. Content.

  2. What they say.

  3. Delivery

  4. How they say it.

  5. What their facial expressions, gestures, and body language are saying.

Delivery trumps content. We believe what we see!

This has always been known, but not always given the necessary attention by candidates.

Search YouTube for the first televised presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon on September 25, 1960, and you’ll “see” what I mean. Televisions were only black and white at that time.

Richard Nixon was a man who had a five o’clock shadow in the morning and didn’t want to use makeup to cover it. His upper lip was wet from sweating and he didn’t always look directly into the camera and address the television audience. He had recently been in the hospital, lost weight, and his suit didn’t fit well. To many he appeared nervous and untrustworthy.

Kennedy looked much better, appeared calm and confident, and spoke directly to the camera and people watching their TVs.

The interesting thing, and of importance to all presenters, is the audience who heard the debate on the radio thought Nixon was the winner. Those watching on television believed Nixon looked nervous and dishonest. They gave the nod to Kennedy.

We believe what we see!

Other Presidential Debate Examples

The 1992 Bush-Clinton-Perot Debate. George Bush looked at his watch after being asked a question about how the recession affected him personally. His long answer didn’t really answer the question and looking at his watch, indicated, in the audience’s mind, he was bored or uneasy and wanting the debate to end. He didn’t connect with the audience.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, embraced the audience with his voice and body language.

The October 17, 2000 debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The visual, and loud sound, of Al Gore sighing repeatedly as Governor Bush made his points appeared disdainful to viewers. That perception certainly didn’t help his cause in one of the closest races in history.

“The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live” didn’t let its audience forget the faux pas.

The one and only Nixon-Kennedy debate was achieved less than two months before the election and there were only three major channels to tune into. The recent Republican Party debates were scheduled more than a year ahead of the next presidential election. There are many more channels to watch, and they’re all available in high-def. Imagine how Richard Nixon would have appeared to the audience with this technology!

This post is the first of mine about the current politicking and communication skills. We learn by doing and observing.

There is certainly much ahead for us to listen to and watch as the November 8th, 2016 date gets closer.

Stay tuned and let me know, putting politics aside, your observations, good and bad, about the presentations of our candidates.

Incorporate the good you see and hear into your presentations. Eliminate the bad. Do that and I guarantee your next presentation will be – NO SWEAT!


About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach, and the author of the book, “No Sweat Public Speaking!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know:

Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. Perception is reality, and we like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver ‘Knock Your Socks Off Presentations!’ with – NO SWEAT!


  1. Keynote Speaker

  2. Workshop Facilitator

  3. Breakout Sessions

  4. Public Speaking and Presentation Coaching Topics:

  5. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

  6. Crafting Your Elevator Speech, Floor by Floor with – NO SWEAT!

  7. Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

  8. We are All Self-Employed!


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