It’s been tough to escape the political duel unravelling across the pond, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney use the power of speech to secure presidential votes.

Mitt Romney admitted his address to the Republican Party recently at the convention in Florida recently was the “biggest speech of his life" according to reports. And, when you consider what’s at stake, you can see why.

Now we wait to see just how much of an impact their speeches and interviews have in the run up to the elections.

From a leadership development point of view, and because we work so closely with individuals looking to ‘present themselves with impact’, it has been fascinating to watch. Romney who has often been criticised for being too wooden in his approach worked hard to cast aside his reserved image and deliver an open and heartfelt speech.

As a presidential candidate it isn’t just the policies and views that win the vote. People are also swayed by the candidate’s persona, charisma and whether or not they can relate to them.

What can we learn presidential leadership battles that will help us present ourselves with impact in the workplace?

The New York Post portrays Romney as someone that is fit to be President because of his workman-like attitude. What was it about his performance in Florida that enabled him for once to get his message across by presenting himself with impact?

We have assessed how Romney performed by looking at three key areas of his speech.

Use of language
When giving a public address or presentation it is important that you use: clear diction; correct and appropriate language; and also inject feeling and emotion into your delivery. Think about what you’re trying to convey and how you can use loaded language to guide someone to your way of thinking. Romney is extremely accomplished at asking questions that evoke the kind of emotional response he wants. “What does America need?” he asked at one point, with the obvious answer being ‘jobs’. In another evocative statement he said: "You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as President when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.

Personal touch
Make stories genuine and from the heart, speaking from a personal experience allows you to communicate your message with much clearer imagery and purpose. In the past Romney has been accused of lacking the personal touch but in this speech he was for more forthcoming with his own story.

Engaging all the senses
A lot of time is spent on deciding what is going to be put into a presentation, the content and messages are thoroughly thought out, but unfortunately all too often this is where the creativity ends. The ‘what’ is converted onto slides and not much more is done. Some individuals react better to imagery, others from auditory and others from demonstrations and it is vital to encompass elements of each into a presentation to get the best responses. Romney used certain elements of this in his animated speech, which had been carefully composed to his target audience of fellow Republicans.

Romney presented the most important speech of his political life to date and it was well-received. Granted that you may think that success would be a given considering the team of strategists and speech writers that was no doubt involved, but it is in the execution where the battle is won!

Colin Graves
Director, Iridium Consulting

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