As the debates have progressed, there has been a marked improvement in the President’s performance. This foreign policy debate was his strongest and this was for a very good reason.
The President has been briefed every day for nearly 4 years and has had hundreds of meetings on foreign policy related issues. Governor Romney has not. By listening to their answers it is very apparent that the President feels very confident on this topic and this is evidenced by how detailed his answers are and how easily he could attack his opponent.
The only specific observation I have from this debate is around the value of “preparation, experience and specifics”.
When we train nervous business people in Executive Presence one of the psychological techniques we use in order to help them appear confident is to tap into their wealth of experience as a foundation for communicating with strength. Business people who lack confidence when they communicate forget that they usually know more than anyone else on the topic up for discussion – this is why they were asked to speak. This powerful fact should be pulled right to the forefront of the executives mind and act as ballast against feelings of failure. Once that emotional firewall is in place we then turn to delivery which should be easier as the struggle for information recedes.
Governor Romney could only practice with advisors which would put him at a natural disadvantage. Despite this, he did well and didn’t do a huge amount of damage to his prospects.
Having lost a lot of sleep and dedicated 6 hours to viewing these events I can say that these debates have been interesting but not nearly as informative as they could have been. The way these debates are structured could be a whole lot better and more challenging for the participants. The best debate in my opinion was the Vice Presidential debate because the moderator followed up and challenged the candidates constantly. As a viewer you felt that the moderator was on your side and holding these people to account.