Welcome to the Townsville Chamber 2019 Federal Election Debate.
I went to this morning’s event for a couple of reasons – it was my only chance to see all* the candidates side by side and get a sense of the person behind their election poster….and as a Presentation Coach, I wanted to see them put through their speaking paces and observe the impact it had on their message.
Here’s what I saw:
My recommendations (from a presentation perspective) to anyone standing for public office:
1. If you’re invited to a debate and you can’t attend, send your apologies. No one likes being stood up.
2. Rehearse your introduction – it is best not to umm and aah while speaking on the subject you should know best (yourself!). Your audience may not consciously notice your umms and aahs, but they will get a sense of uncertainty from you right from the start.
3. Be aware of your microphone ‘popping’. Those “P” sounds that force a large amount of air into the mic and jar your listener’s ears. If you notice it happening, turn your mouth slightly away from the microphone to avoid the air hitting it directly.
4. Watch your ‘crutches’. The first time you preface your sentence with “Let me be very clear!” it’s powerful…the second time a little less so….and the third time you say it, your audience is starting to think you’ve just got your Party pants on (Political party that is) and you’re parroting political clichés!
5. Answer the question – we know that politicians need to try to weave their party policy into the conversation, and ‘toe the party line’ when responding on certain issues…but if it doesn’t sound like you’re building to a clear answer in the first 15 seconds you will lose the crowd. (And it won’t be easy to get them back.)
Congratulations to all the candidates, not just for showing up this morning, but for being willing to put yourself in the firing line and step up for your community. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and tell others what they ‘should’ do (like I just have!) – thank you for adding your voice to this country’s conversation about our future.
*We won’t mention the candidates that chose not to show (without sending apologies for their non-attendance). You’ve already done enough damage to your own reputation amongst the Townsville business community.