Presidential Debate #3: Five Lessons to Step-up Your Next Presentation

Last night the pressure was on, each candidate striving to deliver the knock-out punch that would leave a lasting impression, swaying undecided voters. Two evenly matched candidates, this debate felt like a tug-of-war … one moment one candidate winning until the rebuttal, when his opponent would take the lead.

While I thought Obama was closer to his second-debate performance than Romney was to his first round win, all in all I’d say it was a draw. Why? Quite different in their styles, both men projected the confidence, credibility and connection that is critical to presidential leadership.

While you may be expecting a critique discussing why a “draw”, I’d like to take this opportunity to share five lessons from the 3rd debate that you can use immediately to step up the quality of your next presentation.

Presidential Lessons Learned

  • Watch your Posture.  Did you notice that from the moment the two candidates sat down they were locked, loaded and ready for action? What did they do that communicated this message? Quite simply it was their posture. Rather than sitting back comfortably in their chairs both men leaned slightly forward with their arms resting on the table top. Their posture alone said energized and engaged. Take-a-way: If seated when presenting, always lean slightly forward, back straight and shoulders relaxed and squared. If you sit back and get too comfortable you can look like a disinterested sack of potatoes NOT a leader.
  • Stay Engaged. In previous debates, both Obama and Biden didn’t always appear to be listening when their opponent were speaking. Sometimes they looked disinterested, distracted or at times dismissive. But all that changed, this time both candidates turned their head, looked at their opponent and appeared to be listening when the other was speaking. Take-a-way: Whenever there are multiple presenters, always look at and listen to the person who is speaking. This level of engagement says a lot about your character.
  • Create Interest. Romney’s response to the first question started with a salutation.  In the previous two debates, both candidates included a greeting with their opening remarks. However, last night when it was Obama’s turn, he skipped the salutation and jumped right into answering the question. Take-a-way: An audience prefers if you skip the greeting and find an interesting way to both grab their attention and introduce the content of your remarks / presentation.  Be careful not to default to a salutation to get you started.
  • Solicit Feedback.  It was clear that both candidates had been skillfully coached on their presentation style. This was most evident with Obama improving both his messaging and delivery with each debate.  Take-a-way: Benefit from the feedback of others. Don’t count on your judgment alone to determine the effectiveness of your presentation. Solicit feedback, gathering differing perspectives about what works and what to change. Ask trusted colleagues to consider: If this was your presentation and you had only 15 minutes to make any changes, what would you change?”
  • Ask for the Sale.  For the first time, both men gave thoughtful consideration to their closing remarks and concluded by asking to be your next president. Take-a-way:  The conclusion is your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression that moves your listeners to action. Be sure you know what you want your listeners to do and ask for it.

Implementing these lessons learned in your next presentation are sure to make you a winner!

What additional lessons did you learn from the 2012 Presidential Debates?

 

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