Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
Convention Communication: The Dems’ Turn
What do you remember? Arms. Not weapons. The strong ones on Michelle Obama! We’ll get to whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing in a moment. But first, the standard reminder about checking your party hat at the door, and read for skill and technique not politics and position.
Last night, I had to do something I’ve never done before. Watch the DNC through Twitter. I was on an Amtrak train from New York to DC, and the internet connection was less than adequate. I watched the replay and clips this morning, and see that the audience’s perception was certainly the reality last night.
All of social cyberspace was abuzz last night over the one-liners that were memorable and resonated with the left-leaning audience. The most notable difference was in the RNC tweets were reflecting on statements. Last night, tweets were quotes from each of the speaker’s speeches. They had soundbites. In fact the three most commonly tweeted quotes that I saw last night, were the most common clips shown in this morning’s recaps on NBC, CBS, and CNN.
Now, let’s get to the dress, and the arms. Women all over were in love with Mrs. Obama’s dress, and the showcasing of her arms. I can’t say I agree about the dress, but that’s just a style choice. Her arms, are well crafted “machines” that exemplify her emphasis on fitness. However, there were about five minutes when that was all anyone could talk about. Frankly, I’m surprised since her trademark look is always a sleeveless dress, and she’s always had great arms. But nonetheless, you don’t want that to be the talking point. Her fantastic use of examples, natural speaking flow, and strong presence is what should have stood out. You could tell she wrote the speech herself, because she owned every word with confidence and sincerity.
Rewinding a bit, former Chief of Staff, and now Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel did not fare as well in parts of his speech. A bit arrogant sounding, and seemed to rub viewers the wrong way. There were even shots of the crowd with attendees looking bored and disinterested. That is, until his one-liner that stuck: “Let Detroit go bankrupt.” The president had another four word statement. “Not on my watch.” So let’s look at why it stuck. He said it on Meet the Press, at the DNC and in this morning’s interviews. Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe) once said, as a politician you know you’ve owned your message when you’ve said it so many times, you get sick of hearing yourself say it! I’m sure we haven’t heard that line for the last time, and the Mayor knows he’s helping to build the message voters will take with them to the polls.
Now, flash to this morning’s interview with, Emmanuel on the Today Show. What he lacked in stage presence and delivery, he really soared in media training and interview performance. Everything from drawing the line on what the speakers’ roles are, in contrast to the President, and acknowledging the room for improvement still needed. It was clear, to the point, and hard to challenge. He was prepared for her questions, and she didn’t appear to be.
As with the RNC, it’s always interesting to point out the subliminal or subtle things that aren’t talked about by the candidates, but are shown to imply a message. In comparing the two crowds RNC vs. DNC one can’t help but notice the vast diversity and the many faces of Americans in attendance at the opening night of the DNC, where the RNC seemed very homogeneous, right down to the type of clothes, hair color and style that people wore in the crowd. Given the changing demographics of the nation’s population, that picture is worth about a 1,000 words about who is appealing to America’s future population.
So that brings us to the take-aways from the first night of the DNC?
- Anticipate the questions before engaging in an interview. You’ll have a better chance of leading your reporter where you want to go.
- Dress for the event, not the distraction.
- Use examples and stories to support your argument.
- Always assume there is a reporter in the room for every presentation, update, meeting and obviously every interview. Know what you want your headline to read in the morning paper after you speak, and chances are, you’ll find a strong and memorable one-liner that will stay on the minds of your audience after you leave.
- What’s your subliminal message? What can’t or shouldn’t you say, but you can show, and get the same effect?
Good luck, and may you always communicate to connect!
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