Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to connect to your audience: two basic hints

Last 7th of November 2011 I watched the debate between the two presidential candidates for next Spanish general elections (on the 20th of November): Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and Mariano Rajoy.

My first impression is that not only was the debate boring, empty of concrete content and full of elusive answers on critical issues, but it also was designed not to hurt citizens' feelings.
My second impression is that when I need theatre, then I'd rather go to the theatre and assist to the performance of good actors, not just amateurs.


Apart from the content, I did not feel hurt nor attacked by their campaign. Actually I didn't feel much impacted, after all. This was independent from the interventions of both candidates (a mix of kindness and good propositions).
The sensation I had was the big distance between me, the audience on the other side of the screen, and them.
And after thinking a little bit, I realized that at least in the final intervention, at the time of addressing their message to the public, they were missing eye contact.
My observations:

  • Nobody would say Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba summarized his message to the nation without batting an eyelid. Along the whole debate he blinked thousands of times.
    It was getting me nervous, really. Because it seemed like he was relying too much on his capacity of improvisation and did not prepare the conclusion at all. Or simply he needed some good eye-drops. I guess it's happened to you, you're asked a question and while thinking of an answer, you start blinking.
    The hint, simply blink as much as physiologically needed.
  • On the contrary, it seemed like Mariano Rajoy did not rely at all on his capacity of improvisation.
    Actually what would you say of a person looking at his own notes 585 times in approximately 40 minutes? The contact to the audience was completely fragmented.
    Quoting Rajoy, speaking of political situation in Spain:
    Actually I know it won't be easy, actually it'll be —pause 5 seconds and look at the note, then resume— difficult.
    What? You need to read your notes to say it'll be —pause— difficult?
    Second hint. Don't use notes, just for writing. You'll be proud of yourself and people will appreciate it. Moreover, less people will doubt about your sincerity.
A polite debate, after all; nobody left the room injured.