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Lessons in Communication from the Vice Presidential Debate

I just finished watching the Vice Presidential debate and both debates so far have been interesting studies in Communication. I don’t intend to get into a political debate here, only to dissect and comment on the communication styles both parties have done. Here are some of the principles of communication that I noticed about the debate.

1. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

Biden was aggressive and over the top for much of the night. He interrupted multiple times and laughed numerous times at Paul Ryan. It’s a matter of opinion on whether Biden was seen as rude or as confident.

Biden, interestingly enough, seemed the opposite of President Obama during his first debate.

As a communicator, you have to understand that your tone, demeanor, and movement all help illustrate your message, positively or negatively.

2. It’s not what you say, it’s what you don’t say

There are numerous issues that both sides just refuse to comment on. For Obama/Biden it’s Social Security and those that are currently receiving benefits and how they will be affected by changes. For Romney/Ryan it’s more about the specifics of how to handle the predicted debt crisis.

More than the things that these candidates say, for some it will be the things that they had trouble articulating or diverting away from. As a communicator, you not only have to craft what you say but think clearly about what you aren’t saying and how that can be construed in the delivery of your intended message.

3. It is what you say

Two big jokes tonight. One from Ryan about Biden’s tendency to have things slip out in statement or conversation that he has to go back and fix. One from Biden about Ryan possibly claiming to be Jack Kennedy.

Ultimately, the things that they said matter in the scheme of things. The answer to the questions, how their religious viewpoint dictates their policy, and how knowledgeable they seem with the budget, economy and healthcare.

As a communicator and a leader, your words matter. You have to spend time crafting what you say.

I definitely was taking some notes during the Vice Presidential debate. Plus, #malarkey was trending on twitter. That was hilarious to see.

Any communication principles stick out to you?

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jcthompson@churchleaders.com'
J.C. Thompson is the 5th & 6th Grade Director at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville, SC, one of Outreach magazine’s Top 100 Largest Churches in America.