Power Presentations - Wednesday, September 11, 2013
by Jerry Weissman
Last week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FLA) appeared CNN’s “The Lead” to discuss the highly controversial issue of Syria. At the start of the interview, anchorman Jake Tapper asked the senator, “If you were president right now, what would you advocate?”
Senator Rubio’s answer was, “We have no good options because of two years of inaction.”
Because the senator did not answer the question, Mr. Tapper asked it again, “What would you do?”
For the next nearly five minutes of the interview, Senator Rubio did not say what he would do were he president, instead he used the opportunity to blame President Obama five more times. (See the video)
“The ideal outcome is that Assad falls… but that is no longer possible… directly as a result of the president’s mishandling of the situation.”
“We may have reached the point now that, because of this administration’s total mismanagement of the situation, there is no possibility of a good outcome.”
“What the president is advocating is basically a symbolic act.”
“I hate to keep going back to the same point, but we may have reached the point where there is no good option in this conflict. And again, it is the direct result of the mismanagement of this conflict.”
“I am frustrated that we are now hamstrung because of the options available to us, because the president chose to lead from behind for two years.”
The American public, long accustomed to how politicians behave, have come to tolerate the practice of ducking questions; business people, however, are not so tolerant. They demand answers to all questions or reasons why a presenter can’t provide an answer. No one expects a presenter to reveal trade secrets or competitive information, but diversions into blame are not acceptable. In business, transparency is all.
Power Presentations - Wednesday, November 14, 2012
by Jerry Weissman
On the Sunday before Election Day, the New York Times (which had enthusiastically endorsed President Obama the previous Sunday) published a negative article in its Magazine section titled, “Still Waiting for the Narrator in Chief.” In the article, Matt Bai, the newspaper's chief political correspondent, pondered how Mr. Obama had “squandered his narrative mojo.”
Mr. Bai was echoing an opinion voiced by many others throughout the election campaign; particularly by his Times colleague, Maureen Dowd, who, in one of her many critiques of the president, took a shot at him by referencing a new book, A Nation of Wusses, in which “Democrat Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, wonders how ‘the best communicator in campaign history’ lost his touch.”
The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times. It’s funny when I ran everybody said, “well he can give a good speech, but can he actually manage the job?” And in my first two years, I think the notion was, “well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?” And I think that was a legitimate criticism.
That self-evaluation became a self-fulfilling prophecy in his first debate with Mitt Romney. Mr. Obama’s lackluster performance drew a torrent of criticism—including here—and a dip in the opinion polls. But the criticism also served as a wakeup call. He became a man possessed for the rest of the campaign. Reaching back to his breakthrough keynote at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he pulled out all the rhetorical stops from that speech and deployed them throughout the rest of his 2012 campaign: in the second and third debates, in his many stump speeches, and then again in his rousing victory speech.
Readers of The Power Presenter will recall that I analyzed the rhetorical techniques in the 2004 speech. Below you’ll find a reprise of three of the techniques and their equivalents in the 2012 victory speech:
Antithesis: two contrasting ideas juxtaposed in adjacent phrases.
There is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.
it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
Anaphora: a phrase repeated in several successive sentences, clauses, or phrases
America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do -- if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Anecdote is a brief human interest story (and not a joke.)
I met a young man named Shamus in a V.F.W. Hall in East Moline, Illinois…
And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter…
As Mr. Obama starts his second term facing many daunting domestic and international challenges, he will have to keep that narrative mojo going at full strength. As Matt Bai put it in the conclusion of his article, “Once you’re in office, the story you tell about and to the country …is, to a large extent, the presidency itself.”
Yesterday’s post, in anticipation of the third and final presidential debate of 2012, described how Al Gore agreed with his opponent, George W. Bush, seven times during one of their 2000 debates. In last night’s debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, Mr. Romney outdid Mr. Gore nearly twofold:
1.…we’re going to have to recognize that we have to do as the president has done. I congratulate him on — on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaida.
2.There was an effort on the part of the president to have a status of forces agreement. And I concurred in that and said we should have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I concurred with…That was your posture. That was my posture as well.
3. After Mr. Obama, speaking of his handling of Syria, said, “What we’ve done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go,” Mr. Romney said:
Recognize I believe that Assad must go.
4. After Mr. Obama, speaking of his handling of Libya, said, “We did so in a careful, thoughtful way, making certain that we knew who we were dealing with, that those forces of moderation on the ground were ones that we could work with. And we have to take the same kind of steady, thoughtful leadership when it comes to Syria. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Mr. Romney said:
I don’t want to have our military involved in — in Syria. I don’t think there’s a necessity to put our military in Syria at — at this stage. I don’t anticipate that in the future.
5. After moderator Bob Schieffer of asked Mr. Obama, “During the Egyptian turmoil, there came a point when you said it was time for President Mubarak to go,” and Mr. Obama said, “Right,” Mr. Schieffer turned to Mr. Romney for his position, and he said:
I believe, as the president indicated and said at the time, that I supported his — his action there….once it exploded, I felt the same as the president did
6. After Mr. Obama said of Mr. Romney, “He’s praised George Bush as good economic steward and Dick Cheney as somebody who shows great wisdom and judgment,” Mr. Romney said:
My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that.
7. After Mr. Obama said, “What I now want to do is to hire more teachers, especially in math and science, because we know that we’ve fallen behind when it comes to math and science,” Mr. Romney said:
Look, I — I love to — I love teachers, and I’m happy to have states and communities that want to hire teachers, do that.
8. I want to underscore the — the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel.
9.After Mr. Obama said, “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. I’ve made that clear when I came into office. We then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy,” Mr. Romney said:
And crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago when I was in Israel speaking at the Herzliya Conference. I laid out seven steps. Crippling sanctions were number one. And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do to have crippling sanctions.
10. When Mr. Schieffer asked Mr. Romney about the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014, he replied:
Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014. And when I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014.
11. We look at what’s happening in Pakistan and recognize that what’s happening in Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in Afghanistan. And — and I say that because I know a lot of people just feel like we should just brush our hands and walk away. And I don’t mean you, Mr. President, but some people in the — in our nation feel that Pakistan (doesn’t ?) — being nice to us and that we should just walk away from them.
This is — this is an important part of the world for us. Pakistan is — is technically an ally, and they’re not acting very much like an ally right now, but we have some work to do. And I — I don’t blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan; we had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do.
12.When Mr. Schieffer asked, “Let me ask you, Governor, because we know President Obama’s position on this, what is — what is your position on the use of drones? Mr. Romney replied:
Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.
To repeat the George Santayana quote I cited after Mr. Obama’s flat presentation in the first debate, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Twelve years ago, during the presidential election that pitted Vice President Al Gore against then Texas Governor George W. Bush, the candidates met in three debates, just as President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are doing this year. One dynamic from the 2000 campaign could carry forward to this year: dramatic reversals in presentation style. Just as Mr. Obama made a significant shift from his listless demeanor in the first debate to what Maureen Dowd called an “alpha tone” in his second, Al Gore made significant shifts in his style between his debates.
In the first contest, Mr. Gore, who was expected to dominate the notoriously language-challenged Mr. Bush, came out roaring like a lion. His statements and rebuttals were filled with aggressive and divisive words like “wrong,” “not,” “differences,” “mistake,” and “opposite.” His manner was also combative, continually punctuated by condescending sighs, derisive head-shaking, scornful frowns, and disdainful eye-rolling.
The arrogant behavior immediately boomeranged. Television broadcasters had a camera isolated on Mr. Gore for reaction shots. Their news directors took the output of this camera and edited his expressions into a rapid-cut sequence that they ran in their local and national broadcasts repeatedly. Public and media criticism rained down on the vice president.
In response, Mr. Gore made a sharp about face in the second debate and came out like a lamb. During the 90- minute event, he expressed agreement with his opponent seven times—earning him further public criticism. So Mr. Gore reversed field again and swung back to his aggressive ways in the third debate.
At one point, moderator, Jim Lehrer of the PBS News Hour, who also moderated the first Obama-Romney debate,asked Mr. Bush the same question he would later ask Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney:
I’d like to know how you see the differences between the two of you
Mr. Bush rose from his seat and began to address his answer to the town-hall audience
Well, the difference is that I can get it done. That I can get something positive done on behalf of the people. That’s what the question in this campaign is about...
As he continued his answer, Al Gore stood up, and started to walk across the stage, directly toward his opponent, almost menacingly. Unaware of Mr. Gore’s move, Mr. Bush continued:
…It’s not only what’s your philosophy and what’s your position on issues, but can you get things done?
In the middle of his statement, Mr. Bush turned to see Mr. Gore approaching, paused for a beat, then nodded at Mr. Gore and smiled, evoking titters from the audience.
Then, Mr. Bush turned back to the audience and said:
And I believe I can.
The audience titters gave way to laughter.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll about the effects of the debate on public opinion gave George W. Bush a seven point advantage over Al Gore.
Mr. Gore compensated for his initial aggressive behavior by being passive, and then he overcompensated for being passive by being even more aggressive. Mr. Obama compensated for his initial passive behavior by being aggressive.
As 50 million viewers prepare to watch the first of this year’s presidential debates tonight, the media is abuzz with discussions and opinions about the major issues: jobs, taxes, healthcare, Libya, Iran, Israel, abortion, immigration, and same sex marriage. For many voters, this is a single-issue election that drives them to favor one candidate or another, but all voters are driven by one factor more powerful than all the others: their gut feelings.
The feelings actually emanate high above the gut, from a group of brain cells called “mirror neurons.” As their name implies, these cells mirror feelings between people, creating an instinctive emotional bond between them. First discovered two decades ago in experiments with lab monkeys, the mirroring phenomenon became known as “monkey see, monkey do.” In humans, what people see, they feel; if we see another person wince in pain, we cringe, if we see another person giggle uncontrollably, we smile, if we see an anxious person, we feel ill at ease, if we see a confident person, we feel elated. These feelings are also called “empathy.”
Political pollsters call them “likeability,” a more sedate term than "gut" and less touchy-feely than "empathy", yet all of the terms describe the primal emotions that candidates generate in the electorate. After all, the president of a nation, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is very much like the chief of a tribe or the patriarch (and perhaps someday, the matriarch) of a clan. Followers of any leader want to feel—deep inside—that they are in good, strong hands. “Who’s your Daddy?”
Theodore H. White, the great political historian who chronicled the presidential elections of 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972, saw these primal forces at work in the seminal 1960 debate that pitted the patrician John F. Kennedy against the rumpled Richard M. Nixon. In his classic, The Making of the President 1960, Mr. White wrote thatdebates “give the voters of a great democracy a living portrait of two men under stress and let the voters decide, by instinct and emotion, which style and pattern of behavior under stress they preferred in their leader…[they] generalize this tribal sense of participation, this emotional judgment of the leader, from the few to the multitude.”
Half a century later, Mr. White’s words were echoed by Dante Chinni in a Wall Street Journalarticle anticipating tonight’s debate between President Obama and Governor Romney:
Of all the measures of a presidential candidate, the most useful may be the most basic: whether voters have “positive” feelings toward him. In every recent presidential race, the candidate with the higher positive numbers has won the White House.
Mr. Chinni’s article went on to list the likability figures for the month preceding the three most recent presidential elections and that of the most recent month this year:
Will the patrician Mr. Romney break the likability string or will the cool Mr. Obama keep it alive?
In 2007, Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for New Yorker magazine, wrote a comprehensive profile of Barack Obama when he was an up and coming Illinois state legislator, called “Can Barack Obama Catch Hillary Clinton?”
In 2008, Barack Obama caught Hillary Clinton and kept running—all the way to the Oval Office.
In the August 6, 2012 issue of The New Yorker, Mr. Lizza wrote a comprehensive profile of up and coming Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
Five days later, on August 11, 2012, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, announced that Mr. Ryan was his choice for his vice-presidential candidate.
Has Mr. Lizza picked another winner? Only the Election Day will tell, but both of Mr. Lizza’s choices for in-depth profiling have parallel communication qualities:
Speechmaking: In 2004, Mr. Obama wrote and delivered a Cinderella speech that took him from obscurity to rock stardom. In 1993, Mr. Ryan did his political internship as a speechwriter for former football hero Jack Kemp who, three years later, went on to become Bob Dole’s vice-presidential candidate.
Positive messaging: In 2008, Mr. Obama’s famous campaign slogan was “Yes we can!” In 2012, Mr. Ryan told Mr. Lizza:
If you’re going to criticize, then you should propose…People like me who are reform-minded ignore the people who say, “Just criticize and don’t do anything and let’s win by default.” That’s ridiculous…They don’t want to produce alternatives? That’s not going to stop me from producing an alternative.2
“Criticize and propose” represents an unusual positive strategy in a campaign that, until now, has been as negative as it gets; characterized by the New York Times as “sliding back down the banister.” Mr. Obama’s “Yes we can” has vanished—replaced with a welter of critical ads and speeches. Mr. Romney, who battled his way to the Republican candidacy by attacking and counterattacking his opponents in the primaries, has continued in the same antagonistic mode against his Democratic opponent.
Mr. Ryan’s positive strategy, if he can stay with it, in the face what looks like an unrelievedly contentious campaign, provides a lesson for any communicator.
Business people cannot make their own case at the expense of the competition because it not only casts a negative pall on the whole market; it also boomerangs back onto the naysayer. Bashing sounds defensive. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. It is far better to look at all the players in the competitive landscape and position them within that larger context.
One way to do that is with the classic comparison matrix, originated by the Boston Consulting Group, of four quadrants, charting values along the x- and y-axes. Here’s how the BCG website describes it: “This framework categorizes products within a company's portfolio as stars, cash cows, dogs, or question marks according to growth rate, market share, and positive or negative cash flow.”
Another comparison table shows all the players on one axis and how they compare in several key features along the other axis, and grades them with checks and crosses, or plusses and minuses, or what is known as Harvey Balls, in which filled circles represent full value, empty circles, no value, and partially-filled circles represent partial value:
Just imagine if, in the upcoming October debates that will pit Mr. Ryan against Mr. Biden, and Mr. Romney against Mr. Obama, the candidates were to compare and contrast each other along the lines of one of these charts. We might just have a campaign that focuses on issues rather than charges; alternatives rather than criticism.
Arianna Huffington, the president and editor-in-chief of the
Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and
author of thirteen books wrote about the value of good story telling in her blog today.
Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate for president in 1964 infamously said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” This misguided view of political policy became a major factor in Mr. Goldwater’s landslide loss to Lyndon Johnson, but it also serves as a warning lesson for presenters. Extremism in any pursuit can overshoot the mark and result in the opposite intent of the pursuit.
One of the most frequently repeated pieces of advice for presenters is to “Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you’ve told ’em.” In fact, I offer the same advice in my own coaching practice and writing. The intent is to impose and maintain a clear narrative flow in presentations and speeches; and the reason it is repeated so often is that most presenters and speakers, who regularly crank out long, rambling, pointless patchwork pitches, desperately need reminding. The Triple “Tell ’em” is one solution. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing; a sword can cut two ways.
Bruce Eric Kaplan, a cartoonist who appears regularly in the New Yorker magazine as BEK, skewered the excessive Triple “Tell ’em” earlier this month with a panel that showed a presenter in front of an audience, saying, “First, I want to give you an overview of what I will tell you over and over again during the entire presentation.”
We’re also painfully familiar with presenters who impose a narrative laundry list on their bullets by saying “First, I’d like to talk about…” then move on to the second bullet saying, “Next, I’d like to talk about…” and then proceed through every bullet the same way until the end, when they say—wait for it— “Last but not least…”
Some presenters push their extreme handholding even further, by utilizing their slides to do the tracking. As in the figure above, they insert copies of an agenda slide between the sections of their presentation, progressively shifting the highlighted bullet to “Tell ’em what they’re gonna tell ’em” in the upcoming section. This technique can be useful in long tutorial presentations, but if there are only one or two slides between the variations of the agenda in short presentations—and short presentations are obligatory in this 140-character day and age—the audience, feeling patronized, will react with a big Duh!
Presenters are not the only perpetrators of such deliberate continuity devices. Geoff Dyer, who writes the “Reading Life” column the New York Times Book Review section, considers excessive tracking a “basically plodding method.” In one of his columns, he criticized art historian Michael Fried, whose book, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, takes “the style of perpetual announcement of what is about to happen to extremes.” Mr. Dyer said it is “like watching a rolling news program: Coming up on CNN . . . A look ahead to what’s coming up on CNN.” Concluding his critique, Mr. Dyer wrote, “I kept wondering why an editor had not scribbled ‘get on with it!’ in huge red letters on every page of the manuscript.”
Then, with a shorter and more succinct story, look at your presentation from a 35,000 foot view—as a storyboard—in the Microsoft PowerPoint Slide Sorter view, or with the Power Presentations Storyboard form in the accompanying figure. It’s downloadable from our website: www.powerltd.com by clicking at the bottom of the home page.
Just as television and film directors use storyboarding to see the full scope of their stories, look at your slide show in this panoramic view to see your flow. Then rehearse your presentation aloud, moving from frame to frame. Do this several times. Along the way, you’ll find that you might want to add, delete, or shuffle slides. As you proceed with your iterations, you will develop verbal connective links for your narrative.
Ultimately, you will have a presentation in which The Triple “Tell ’em” is transparently implied. You will have a story that will be easy for you to deliver and, more important, easy for your audience to follow—without a laundry list, without CNN-style teasers, and best of all, without those patronizing agenda slides.
Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968, who was the driving force behind the controversial Vietnam War, went on to a more successful stint as head of the World Bank. He lived until the ripe old age of 93, but according to his New York Times obituary, “spent the rest of his life wrestling with the war’s moral consequences.”
As part of his struggle, he agreed to be the subject of a 2003 documentary in which he expressed regrets but ultimately defended his actions. The film is called The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons of Robert S. McNamara. Lesson Ten is about communication, and it contains sound advice for presenters about what not to do. Said Mr. McNamara:
One of the lessons I learned early on: never say never. Never, never, never. Never say never. And secondly, never answer the question that is asked of you. Answer the question that you wish had been asked of you. And quite frankly, I follow that rule. It's a very good rule.
Unfortunately, that rule has taken on a life of its own in the modern business world. Many consultants urge presenters to stay on message. And yes, it’s good to do that--within bounds. But think about it: How can it be a “very good rule” not to be responsive to other people? In interpersonal relationships, not answering a question can lead to an argument; in business, not answering a question can lead to the failure of a deal. Only in politics, where the public has become inured to the practice of ducking and spinning does the public tolerate unanswered questions. But even there, the McNamara rule can backfire.
In the contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry threw his hat into the ring late in the game, but his track record of three consecutive victories in Texas elections and strong conservative support vaulted him to the top of the public opinion polls very quickly. However, after hapless performances in live televised debates, Mr. Perry’s poll numbers sank as fast as they had risen. The polls were confirmed in his dismal showings in the first three primaries, and he withdrew from the race five months after he entered.
Mr. Perry’s two most notorious performance stumbles were his brain lock in one debate and a bungled statement in another, each of which went viral on the Web and in the media. But what was largely overlooked in all that attention was a Robert McNamara moment in the October 18, 2011 debate on CNN, when moderator Anderson Cooper asked this question:
COOPER: Governor Perry, the 14th Amendment allows anybody. A child of illegal immigrants who is born here is automatically an American citizen. Should that change?
PERRY: Well, let me address Herman's issue that he just talked about.
COOPER: Actually, I'd rather you answer that question.
PERRY: I understand that. You get to ask the questions, I get to answer like I want to.
“I get to answer like I want to.” Imagine a salesperson saying that to a customer, a mid-level manger to a senior executive, an executive to a board member, or a CEO to an investor. Meeting over. No deal.
Imagine saying that to your significant other. No comment.
Anderson Cooper called Mr. Perry on it, “That's actually a response, that's not an answer.”
Four months later, in another debate among Republican candidates, a déjà vu Robert McNamara moment occurred in this exchange between Mitt Romney and CNN moderator John King:
KING: What is the biggest misconception about you in the public debate right now?
ROMNEY: We've got to restore America's promise in this country where people know that with hard work and education, that they're going to be secure and prosperous and that their kids will have a brighter future than they've had. For that to happen, we're going to have to have dramatic fundamental change in Washington, D.C., we're going to have to create more jobs, have less debt, and shrink the size of the government. I'm the only person in this race --
KING: Is there a misconception about you? The question is a misconception.
ROMNEY: You know, you get to ask the questions want, I get to give the answers I want.
You must respond to all questions. This is not to say that you should give away state secrets; you have every right to decline to answer on the basis of confidentiality, competitive data, or company or legal policy, but you must provide a rational reason — and “I get to answer like I want to” is irrational.
his campaign to become the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt
Romney has taken many lumps for being rich. His opponents and the media
have exploited the contrast between his personal wealth and the economic
struggles of much of the electorate. Mr. Romney hasn’t helped his cause
by making several awkward statements about the subject. Yesterday, the
day before today’s critical Michigan and Arizona primaries, the ABC News
OTUS site ran a twelve-page post titled, “Is Mitt Romney out of touch?” which included the following assertions:
The latest gaffe came last Friday in a speech Mr. Romney gave in Detroit,
during which he said, “I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck,’’
but then went on to say, “Ann drives, a couple of Cadillacs, actually.’’
The statement wound up on the first page of the ABC News post.
On Sunday, however, Mr. Romney reversed gears by turning the gaffe into an asset. During an interview on Fox News, Chris Wallace asked, “Governor, could you understand why some voters could be put off by those things?”
(video clip requires Microsoft Windows Media Player)
Mr. Romney replied:
I can't be perfect, I just am who I am and I can tell you this
with regards to the cars that was talked about last September and people
ask us what vehicles we own. We have a car in California; we have a car
And so that's the way it is. If people think that there is something
wrong for being successful in America, they should vote for the other
guy. I have been successful.
Mr. Romney didn’t equivocate or evade as so many politicians so often
do. In the parlance of the middle America he is trying to win over, he
“told it like it is;” in the parlance of effective communication, he was
being open and direct. But being even more effective, he added one more
sentence to his answer:
And I want to use that success to help the American people.
That single sentence represents both a benefit to the electorate and a
declaration of his qualifications to provide that benefit. This is a
technique called Topspin; taken from the tennis term for a power stroke,
it adds power to answers. You can read more about Topspin in my book, In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions—and can get a FREE Kindle copy now on Amazon.