Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How You Communicate Matters!

Is Rick Perry for real? Yes, and that realness is his appeal. His communication style is personal and his rhetoric compelling for many Americans. He's saying what many are thinking, and those thinkers are finding their voice through him. Like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Rick Perry is brutally honest, candid, combative and not afraid to speak his mind or offend with his confrontational style. Rick Perry is bold, brash and confident that the larger voter population will find him as engaging as the Texas voters who helped him defeat the mild-mannered Kay Bailey Hutchison and win a third term as governor of Texas. I didn’t see any of the debates, but I suspect he overshadowed her and out-shouted her. Rick Perry, like Governor Chris Christie, likes to be in front!

A Twitter musing suggested that if Rick Perry and George Bush had been in the same family, W would have become known as the smart one. Comparing them because they're both Texans and about the same age is foolish. For eight years George Bush struggled to speak eloquently, while Rick Perry seems to do it effortlessly.

A better comparison on style is probably between Obama and Perry. Maureen Dowd in her NYT column today wrote with a keen observation of the two that was downright hilarious. Yesterday Obama spent the day in Peosta, Iowa, discussing “helping farms manage manure in creative ways, while Rick Perry barreled past on his own bus, breaking creative new ground in volatility.

“As Obama did dressage, Perry galloped through Iowa like an unbroken stallion in danger of cracking a leg”.

There are stirrings on all sides of the aisle for honest, direct communication. Rick Perry is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up in a place so small it didn’t have a zip code. He's passionate about anything American. His enthusiasm and speaking style, whether or not you like his politics, is real!

What is your communication style? It pays to observe others and then to get professional feedback to assure success in your next presentation.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Are the Message!

On Aug. 11, which also happened to be my birthday, I scheduled my work and play around the 6 p.m. telecast of the Iowa debate. Being a news and political junkie, I was not about to engage in birthday frivolity until I had observed the delivery styles of the eight current presidential candidates. I wanted to see how they came off verbally and non-verbally.

As scheduled, seven blue suitors and tiny Michele Bachmann in grey assembled in Stephens Auditorium on the campus of Iowa State University to debate and defend their records in the highly competitive Republican race. And on schedule, each took his or her assigned place behind a lectern.

For almost two hours the candidates sparred back and forth, but they and their answers were generally tight and confined to the cramped air space surrounding them. All, that is, with the exception of the only admittedly pudgy candidate: Newt Gingrich. He was bigger than his space, seemed to know it, and cleverly took advantage of it. Contrary to many of the candidates who often appeared to be simply sparring with each other, Newt deftly broke out of his defined space with open expansive gestures, a booming voice, sweeping eye contact and brilliant rhetoric. He embraced the attendees and his TV viewers and engaged all with his humorous criticism of the formation of the super committee on debt reduction, stating that it was, “as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with in my lifetime.” The auditorium audience loved his candor and roared with approval!

Today, Aug. 13, Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. But that doesn't change the fact that Gingrich was incredibly comfortable moving beyond the confines of the lectern to engage the audience. His carriage and body language gave him an edge so he could communicate more effectively with the audience while making him appear at ease and confident.