From my consulting colleague Leslie Unger of Electric Impulse Communications (www.electricimpulse.com) comes sage advice for viewing the Presidential debates. This advice has no political bias.
10 Tips to Watch Tonight’s Presidential Town Hall
These tips are designed to help you view the Town Hall format and the candidates with a communication mindset. Once you read this you can talk about the candidates as to how they communicated: which is separate from their/your political views.
1. Look for who conveys “Presidential.”
If you remember 9/11 then you know this is an important characteristic. Who embodies trust, belief, and inspiration? Issues will change, who do you believe can provide fundamental change and federal leadership?
2. Look for Who Best Represents Your Personal Future
Who do you believe, based on values or logic, best represents your future for the next four or eight years?
3. Look for Who Most Effectively Represents the Country’s Future
4. Listen for Who Has a Vision
A strategic mindset is a huge asset in today’s world. Vision is both a mindset and the ability to communicate that mindset to get buy-in from the audience. Who has a vision, is strategic in word and deed? Remember, strategy is the “what”, tactical is the “how”.
5. Listen for Who is Consistent
Consistency has great value, in your company and in this race. Who is most consistent, day in and day out, in a debate, in an interview, in their action; over a period of time?
6. Observe and Record Your Mental and Emotional Responses
Make a note each time you agree or disagree with a statement by each nominee. Make a note of each time you say to yourself, “That makes sense,” and each time you say to ourself, “That’s nonsense.”
Do keep in mind, however, that your mental responses always will reflect your values, your beliefs, your bias, and your prejudices.
If you can honestly admit to yourself that you are not seeing or hearing the nominee objectively, if you would praise one and criticize the other no matter what he said, record your responses at only half value to offset your bias.
7. Listen for Who Demonstrates “Question Avoidance”
A standard technique taught in media training for politicians is to sidestep questions they do not wish to answer and instead focus on their talking points. When it is done well, when the art of dodging is hidden, it is invisible. When it is not done well, it looks and sounds like spinning and audiences tend to dislike the act and the person perpetuating the spin.
8. Watch Eye Movement
According to basic eye movement cues in the lexicon of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), you can tell a lot about what’s happening inside a person’s mind by the person’s eye movements. You are looking for congruity, that is, when they eyes and the mouth are expressing the same things.
* Eyes Up and Left: remembered imagery [e.g., remembering the facts].
* Eyes Up and Right: constructed imagery and visual fantasy [e.g., creating a lie].
* Eyes Lateral Right: remembered sounds and words and “tape loops”
* Eyes Down and Left: Internal dialogue, or inner self-talk.
* Eyes Straight Ahead but Defocused or Dilated: Quick access to sensory information, usually visual [e.g., telling the truth] Other useful links at Kenesic.com
9. Watch Body Language
You can learn much about the nominee by his body language. Does he cross his arms or put a hand in his pocket? Does he gesture with his hand open or balled into a fist? Are his shoulders relaxed or hunched around his neck. Are his hands relaxed or fidgeting? Is he smiling naturally or forcing a smile? You are looking for congruity, that is, when they body and the mouth are expressing the same things.
10. Fact Check for Mistakes and Purposeful Misconceptions
I suggest going to the following independent sources: Annenberg’s FactCheck.org, The Washington Post, Fact Checker Blog, St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly and the public fact-checking website, Spot.us.
Enjoy the debate! Democrat Dave