Editor’s Note: This is not a partisan blog. We occasionally discuss the effectiveness of important political speeches and events. We will also publish a brief analysis of the President’s speech to the Democratic National Convention and of the fall debates.
You’ll be able to find deeper analysis from others in the days to come.
In analyzing speeches and other presentations, style and substance are important, but I find it more helpful to review the big picture: What are the speech's objectives, and were they met?
1. Understand your objectives for the interview
For Mitt Romney, the speech he concluded moments ago at the Republic National Convention was a job interview. His potential employers are the American people.
Most of us have either hired employees, or been hired, so we know the kinds of questions that need to be answered:
Do you have the right experience for this job?
Do you understand this company and this job?
Do you have the intelligence and energy to do this job?
There are other questions like these, the explicit questions that are asked and discussed.
2. Building trust is the most important objective
Then there are the questions implicit questions that may never be verbalized:
Do I trust this person?
Do I believe what this person is saying?
Can I see this person in this job?
Do I want to see this person everyday?
Will this person fit into our culture?
In my presentation and interview coaching, I say these questions are usually more important than the verbalized questions. These really determine whether we get the job or make the sale.
Romney went through this interview and had to check the boxes on all of these questions and more with the American people.
I won’t analyze all the specifics of his speech, but I will tell you that he did check the boxes. He positioned himself as qualified, he was likable (a major challenge for him), he was woman friendly, and composed.
3. You must tell your story
Most important, Romney connected with the audience by telling his story, something he has failed to do throughout the campaign. Romney described himself, his beginnings, his values, and why he is running for President.
It was a workman-like performance that will move his campaign forward. It wasn’t particularly memorable for specific lines, but was well positioned in asking voters whether the most excitement they felt for President Obama was on the day they voted for him in 2008. A memorable passage from Romney's positioning:
I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.
Romney passed the initial job interview and now will be subject to the group interview versus the incumbent. President Obama's speech to the Democrats will be important, but the fall debates will be pivotal.