Improving Strategy, Content,
Technology & Delivery


Campaign Presentations

After witnessing the last presidential campaign and election, I feel compelled to analyze the role presentation talent and technique played in the outcome. With the popular media telling us who ‘won’ and who ‘lost’ the debates, who was leading in the polls, and which candidate was most popular among people of your specific demographic category, it is tempting to accept their analysis and label it as ‘politics as usual’.

It is further difficult to analyze the presentation styles of Senator Kerry and President Bush without revealing a personal bias- but here goes.

It seems uncontested that Senator Kerry scored highest in the formal debating environment. Kerry delivered what appeared to be credible, thoughtful and knowledgeable answers in a confident, convincing style. President Bush, while obviously knowledgeable and eager to respond, revealed apparent frustration and consequently did not assemble his words as cogently as Kerry. While Kerry’s comments were often broad-sweeping (or ‘glittering generalities’ as my high school English teacher would say) and lacked specific, detailed responses, Bush attempted to be realistic and direct in his replies, often failing to promise what the audience may have wanted to hear.

Are these styles calculated and designed to win an election, or are they reflections of the candidates’ personalities? Are the delivery styles carefully constructed under the direction of expensive (but different-thinking) campaign advisors or the natural culmination the years of experience of the two candidates?

The fact that the election was a close as it was reveals that both were almost equally effective. However, if we are to accept the fact that Bush convinced more folks than did Kerry, I ask the question ‘why’?

I’ve stressed the concept of: a] knowing who your audience is; b] defining exactly what you want them to think, know, feel and do following your presentation; and c] delivering it with passion and conviction. Scoring each of the candidates on just these three measures is a real challenge. This campaign was probably the ultimate example of ‘knowing who your audience is’. Both candidates obviously knew precisely ‘what they wanted the audience to do’ following their presentations – vote for them respectively. Both delivered with passion and conviction.

However – when we try to list what they each wanted their audiences to ‘think, know and feel’ following their speeches – the job gets harder. One promised almost everything to everyone - and the other stopped short of doing that. One claimed to know better and understand better the tasks at hand than the other – but defined fewer solutions than the other.

Presentation technique? Presentation talent? Perhaps I need to add another criteria to the list . . . credibility is the word I am considering.

Contact us for assistance in developing presentations that work!





Back to TOP