At the close of the Republican debate at the Reagan Presidential Library, David Gergen, CNN political analyst and adviser to four U.S. presidents, stepped up to the camera and announced, "Rick Perry has brought much-needed muscularity to the race." Immediately Gergen got my attention, as I had been watching Rick Perry closely in his maiden debate. Having just finished making notes on Perry's delivery and how he communicated non-verbally, Gergen's mention of "muscularity" stopped me in my tracks.
The word muscularity I have read – "a remarkable muscularity of style" – but, I am sure, never used or written. Yet Gergen chose the right word to describe Rick Perry's style: "suggests great forcefulness, especially at the expense of subtlety."* From the minute Rick Perry was on stage, he was a crackling ball of energy. I followed him as he strode swiftly to his assigned podium, leapt onto it and positioned his legs and cowboy boots in a wide stance before settling into the front of the lectern.
Once in position he faced the audience, set up his invisible antenna and flashed just the hint of an engaging little boy smile. The effect was the lectern pretty much disappeared.
The likeability factor for this guy is high! His charisma is solid, and other contenders have difficulty knocking him off his game. When challenged, he doesn't back down. Although he had come from an intensive week of monitoring ravaging fires in Texas, he didn't appear to be bringing any exhaustion with him and actually seemed to be relishing the start of the debate! This quality Guy Kawasaki calls "The Reality of Beguiling" in his book Reality Check. Kawasaki discusses at length the psychology of influencing people by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: Science and Practice.
It has been estimated that at least two-thirds of what we communicate doesn't come from the words we speak but rather from how we hold our body, the way we dress, our voice and the quality of our eye contact with the audience - all commonly referred to as body language.
Will Rick Perry hold on? It all depends on the content of his verbal message – the other one-third completes a formidable package!