The U.S. Presidential debates have made for interesting theater. They’ve been a hybrid of reality shows and competition series, scripted only in that each candidate has talking points they want to get across to viewers. One problem: their scripts often don’t deliver well, and their messages are frightening others.
What can a marketer or executive learn from the tone and tenor of the debates to improve their own delivery?
1. Don’t attack the competition. Low blows may make for lively entertainment. But they’re lousy material for engaging beyond the base. Sure, your brand loyalists and repeat customers might not scoff when you debase the competition. But degrading your rivals only brings you down, too.
2. Inspire confidence beyond reproach. Speaking directly to the audience, be confident and strong, without boasting. List your accomplishments, but be prepared to back them up. Donald Trump has spoken confidently about his capabilities, whether it’s been building things, launching businesses, or employing people. Yet, available research has refuted many of his claims. Best to stick to those that are irrefutable.
3. Be congenial. While some politicians have embraced obstructionism, building bridges fosters good will from others. It’s like doing favors or “paying it forward.”
4. Inspire hope. Hope is a powerful emotion. It can drive people en masse to act as you’d like. Encouraging those you’re addressing or even debating to take a more hopeful tone can create a halo that lasts well beyond the initial outreach.
5. Be aware of who’s watching. When you speak for your business, assume everyone is watching. Regarding the current presidential debates, we know the world is watching. Some nations are laughing at us. Some are frightened by the possibilities. Are those the emotions we want to portray, especially among peers or allies?
During her debate Sunday night with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton remarked, “You know, we have our differences. And we get into vigorous debate about issues. But compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week.”
By inspiring confidence, strength, congeniality, and hope, your halo could last much longer than any initial presentation.

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