Getting Over Yourself

September 6, 2012

Will Mitt Romney’s Eyes Decide the Election?

According to polls, Mitt Romney has a problem with “likeability.” And the Republican Convention presented a lot of evidence to the contrary. Plenty of people spoke to how likeable he is.

Yet, when he speaks, he doesn’t lift himself much in the likeability arena. He’s one of those that sounds stronger when you’re listening and not watching.

I think everyone has identified that he tucks his chin–which doesn’t help. He adds two more elements that work against him. He tucks his chin, tilts his head and then rolls his eyes to another part of the audience without moving his head. It looks coy. Not the image you’re looking for when you want credibility. (Try it, you can see that it doesn’t even feel good.)

There can be a number of reasons he does that–habit, his not wanting to look pushy, discomfort with his message. But even with the best of reasons the audience gets a message that he’s not wanting to send.

Audiences may interpret this as insincerity, ineffectiveness, uncertainty, dishonesty. And none of those may be true.

But, if 55% of whether or not an audience buys your message is visual, then you have to retrain yourself to make sure your visual component (everything the audience can see) isn’t giving off the wrong message.

Learn from the candidates so you’re making sure you’re sending the right message–the one you intended.


August 31, 2012

And what was Clint Eastwood thinking?

From all accounts, Clint Eastwood is an amazing director–even able to direct himself. I’m sure he had a grand plan in mind last night at the Republican Convention, but it lacked something in execution. I think he wanted to sound conversational and yet he sounded uncertain.

We know he can memorize lines, so at the beginning I wasn’t worried that he didn’t have the teleprompter.

Apparently some people liked it and others found it confusing.

The same thing can happen to you if you’re not clear on your purpose and the outcome you’re looking for. You don’t necessarily have to have a script, but you do need to have a specific plan. Winging it works for some people. But, if you want to “wing it” your best bet is to know the point you want to make and the path you’re planning to take to get there. When you’re giving a speech, memorizing isn’t your friend, but clarity and focus are your friends.

August 28, 2012

Even if the conventions are political theater you can learn something

This morning I heard a reporter announce that she wasn’t going to cover the conventions because there’s really no news taking place. That it’s all political theater. I won’t argue with that, but if you’re serious about your speaking you probably still ought to watch. It might give you insights as to the candidate’s positions, but even if it doesn’t, it can be educational.

Do you like Mitt Romney? His wife Ann? Chris Christie?  All have different speaking styles and it’s interesting to see if you’re being swayed by that instead of by the message. Both conventions may offer ideas that are worth thinking about. Are you able to listen to the ideas regardless of whether the speaker is good at speaking or not?

Make that your mission. Because if you can figure out why you enjoy listening to some speakers and not others, you’ll make progress with your own speaking. Separate yourself from your political biases and just observe–facial expressions, pauses, length of eye contact, freedom of movement, tone of voice, appropriate inflection. Is their congruity between the message and how it’s being presented?

It’s a great couple of weeks for honing your speaking skills with such a huge number of speakers in such a short time. I hope you use this opportunity as you work to hone your skills.

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