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Coach Cubas on the Candidates

Coach the Candidates

‘Tis the season to talk to my TV. I continue to elbow my husband on the arm and say, “Did you hear that?” or, “What she really means is . . .!”

So what can we learn from my phantom coaching sessions with the T.V.? Words matter! Their sub-text matters more, and the negative or positive charge matter most!
Verbal communications have a sub-text message, an underlying meaning.
Language has connotations—plus and minus. Consider the words “mob, group and team.” On the surface, they connect as a collection of people. The difference is the intention of the people.
Tone of voice matters; non-verbal cues, gestures matter, too.

So, what would I coach with each candidate to advance their messages?

She has a tendency to scream her message. I would work with her on platform skills such as her constant movement across the stage. When using a microphone, a speaker is most effective using the nuance of voice the amplified microphone allows.
Her movement across the stage can be misconstrued. Yes, she wants to engage all sides of the stage. Yet, too much motion can indicate nervousness and is distracting especially for the cameraperson visually trying to follow her.

I’d coach Hillary in storytelling techniques: how to frame a statement for impact, how to use words to relate to her audience and gestures to support her message.

His oratory prowess is unmatched in this election. He knows when to linger on a word, step on his own words, and pause for an applause while still speaking.

My feedback is minimal. I’d advise him to address the camera more, and just be aware of his smirk that could be misconstrued by the minions against him.

His messages are powerful. He is inspirational and touching, he’s real, on purpose. He’s a storyteller.

John Edwards:
Reframe the message in positive ways. People don’t want to hear what they already know—the U.S. is ailing and we need a doctor along with universal healthcare! His issues are real—poverty, he forgotten poor, the lifelong workers given the shaft. Yet, I see his message like someone selling funerals or life insurance—we need these things but don’t want to or are too weak to stand up for ourselves anymore. It’s about broken spirits rather than policies.

John could infuse his messages with elements like: “Yes, it may be this way today, but we can transform it into a hopeful decade using our minds and souls rather than our wallets. Pulling in harness conserves energy and we’re headed in the same direction. We can share our resources while using less.”

His sincerity is evident; the sound bites are droll. He appears frustrated and tired (who wouldn’t with the stress of the campaign trail and knowledge that his wife is ill.) I sense ambivalence about leaving his family, but he’s a man on a mission.

John McCain:
John has earned people’s respect with his service in the Navy. He’s proven under fire and is firm in his convictions. This experience painted the rest of his life that I’m sure he doesn’t take forgranted.

Personally, I’m not sure he’s an active listener, however. This is evidenced by how he talks over people. Sometimes he appears befuddled.

The use of the folksy, “My Friends,” appeals to older people. He could refresh his language to be inclusive using we rather than “you.” He may consider what under 40-somethings may want to hear from him. Fast Company is a good barometer for the fast-paced executives and aspiring leaders.

Mitt Romney:
He needs to be tickled before going in public. Loosen up, Mitt.
You won’t lose votes by being human rather than robotic. Practice empathy so you can demonstrate it. You obviously have feelings, but your corporate climate sucked the empathy out of you. This is a negotiation for hearts and minds, something people are so fond of discussing for other countries we’re fighting.
Finally, Mitt must make more human references rather than companies or institutional examples.

Mike Huckabee:
Mike is a calculated speaker for the most part. He’s highly effective because he connects on a human, emotional level. Note the words he uses and the dropped “g’s” to be folksy. His references are human and sound like quotes from Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Delivery isn’t his issue. Content is. He would benefit from a larger view of his message rather than a niched appeal to religious conservatives. He must be aware of how he alienates “others’ ” religious views.

He is comfortable in his now-slimmed skin; I would encourage Mike to invite others in. That would strengthen his message.

Above all, these are brief observations akin to my proofreading menus. It’s an instant reaction based on my training.

Remember these examples, the next time you speak at a meeting or giving a presentation



As a credentialed business coach and analyst, one of my primary functions is to work with individuals and company managers to clarify where they are presently, where they would like to advance, and what tools they have and need to achieve their desired outcome.

I use a variety of tools to assess perceptions including Platinum Rule instruments, my experience and training in assessing behavior. My preferred tool is the EQ-i®, emotional intelligence inventory. I have specialized training on the EQ-i® and DISC Inventories and access to multiple other sources including a company culture index. I prefer the EQ-i® because it is the least judgmental instrument I have found. It focuses on strengths and areas of development related to the goals set by the individual. For example, people are more likely to apply the EQ-i®’s information rather than label themselves by the Myers-Briggs categories.

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