Sunday, November 20, 2005

Body Talk

There was of course one interesting bit in today's TV hustings. This was right at the start when the candidates walked on, and DC tried to execute a two-handed power handshake on DD. Generally not a great idea: to quote body language expert Allan Pease:

"It is quite common to see politicians greeting voters and sales people meeting their new customers with a double-handed hand shake without realising that this can be social suicide, putting the receiver offside."

Of course, given DC's meticulous staging, it's quite likely that he was trying to put DD "offside" in order to unsettle him. But the problem with too much body language artifice is that it can so easily backfire.

Today's Sunday Times Appointments section (not apparently online) also unpicks DC's over-rehearsed body language. Top management trainer Jo Ouston watched the QT hustings and comments:

“All we get is stage presence. How are we meant to make any judgment on this basis? It would have paid him to show more of his ideas...

While David Cameron has clearly been trained in presentation skills, giving a more polished performance, David Davis has real gravitas, real presence, which is more credible...

Cameron’s presentation style puts emphasis and energy on the beginning of sentences — a technique that is coached — but which, without the substance to back it up, can look superficial. However, Davis was more clearly focused on what he wanted to say rather than how he wanted to say it.”

It's style versus substance again.

“If you are not relaxed and being your real self, it is easy to disrupt your balance. You end up playing a role rather than being who you are.

Gravitas is what makes you credible. It is presence, not presentation, that gives you gravitas. Presence is the person while presentation is just the shell. Cameron may have the upper hand in presentation but Davis has greater presence.

To have a real sense of presence you need to be able to just ‘be’ — which Davis manages very well. Cameron does not."


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