Let the Debates Begin: What Will Win – Substance? Style? Or Both?

Anticipating the Presidential Debates this Wednesday, October 3, I am wondering . . . what will win over the American voter, substance or style or possibly both?

Most people tend to equate superior speaking skills with superior intelligence.  However, what I have learned with 25+ years as a presentation coach is that being an exceptional presenter can be a reliable measure of one’s intellect OR can be a facade, simply projecting the appearance of intelligence.

The charisma of a polished presenter makes it easy for the listener to emotionally connect . . . the rhythm of their voice, the ease at which they move, their gestures, their smile and of course, their conversational tone that can make you feel like you are in the company of a trusted friend. Collectivity these behaviors convey a confidence that easily wins over a crowd.

Substance, on the other hand, means having to listen to what is being said not just how it is expressed — and that is hard work. It requires careful listening, intellectual engagement, at times distilling the content from the delivery. Critical thinking skills are essential to evaluate what is said and provides you the opportunity to clarify and better articulate your own beliefs and values.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be an either-or-situation, when I work with clients I coach for both substance and style — that is what the C.O.D.E.™ process is all about.  And I have heard wonderfully talented presenters that offer both.  One of the most memorable is speaker, thought-leader and best-selling author, Fareed Zakaria — reserved?  Yes, and yet still a perfect blend of intelligence and delivery that conveys confidence, credibility, conviction and connection.

So I ask you, what will you be listening for as the debating begins? And suggest . . . the way you listen will determine your future!

What do you think?

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One Response to Let the Debates Begin: What Will Win – Substance? Style? Or Both?

  1. saxtonstudio says:

    Great article! – and great points for all of us to keep in mind.

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