One big lesson of the recent Republican Debates—at least from a Communications standpoint—is that the chasm between professional and memorable is easy to identify, but hard to define.
I’m an Interpersonal Skills Consultant. That means I help people get their messages across. Most of my clients would consider themselves geniuses if they could deliver with the skill of the seventeen Republican hopefuls from last week’s two debates in Cleveland. And they wouldn’t be half-wrong.
The Republican candidates, on the whole, performed well. In terms of what I teach, each of the seventeen candidates came to the table with clear content, professionally delivered. Each exhibited open body language. Each (save for Lindsey Graham and Ben Carson) employed a clear, articulate voice to share succinct, pithy messages. Some of them used advanced presentation techniques like structured storytelling and on-camera engagement.
My clients pay handsomely to learn such skills. They’ve realized that, as they pull themselves up the ladder, Interpersonal Skills and Soft Skills balloon in importance. The ability to deliver optimistic clear-eyed messages to clients, teams, and stakeholders also grows in primacy. And so they partner with my company, Working Voices, to learn techniques and approaches that help increase impact and efficacy.
Each candidate on stage last Thursday proved that they know how to skillfully, if not masterfully, get a message across. Only a few, however, had moments of true memorability: Carly Fiorina’s tough talk and sharp humor. Trump’s No-BS BS. John Kasich’s refreshing declaration that “…because somebody doesn’t think the way I do doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them, or can’t love them.”
Why? Why did all seventeen Republican Presidential hopefuls have form and technique, without sharing the same sense of memorability? One word: Candor. At some point, competent professional messaging becomes so ubiquitous that we begin to look beyond the technique and search for an underlying message. At that stage, the individual’s voice—and perception, or take on the world—becomes a crucial element.
That’s when The Truth comes in handy. The Truth is the comment that, like it or not, sounds True when you hear it. It’s the explanation, or revelation, that helps people see things in a better, more effective way.
“The Truth just sounds different”
That’s a line from Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.” It also happens to be true. And here’s something else that’s true:
You can have the best body language. You can have the clearest messaging. You can know how to practice without sounding practiced. You can do all of that and your message can still fall flat IF you’re not speaking truth to your audience, or helping to shine a light on the topic you’re addressing.
Know Your Audience. Speak the Truth. Stand Out.