Another Provincial election came and went. Like many people I talked to, although I voted, I didn’t really have a strong “rooting interest” this time around. None of the campaigns were particularly well run (in my own very humble opinion), and each party leader have issues with them that cause me to raise an eyebrow.
A quick glance at my Facebook page tells me that most people are surprised by the results. The most popular word posted was “WHAT????” Aside from the political reasons why the Liberals won, as a communication/public speaking instructor, it is FACINATING to me to see 2 basic rules from Communication 101 in play during this election that at least in part explained the Wynne victory/Hudak loss. For those of us who does public speaking regularly, this may be a good reminder:
(1) “Likability” is a big step towards “Believability” : Every analyst on TV last night points to the fact that Kathleen Wynne was the most “likeable” candidate, certainly when compared to Tim Hudak. It may sound like a shallow reason to some, but the truth is that human communication has been and always will be a holistic process that involves all of our sensory perceptions including our emotional engagement. Lesson to the public speaker: Your audience form impressions, opinions, and sometimes CONCLUSIONS about you as soon as you come into view, long before you say your first word. How you dress, your non-verbals, how you appear to interact with others, all matter.
(2) Clarity is often accepted as truth, while confusion is usually interpreted as falsehood. A huge reason why Hudak’s message never registered with the voting public is because he failed this basic rule of communication/public speaking. When I teach public speaking, I often say that one of the most difficult relationship to present in a speech is “IF A then B”, or “If we do A, then B will result.” The PC platform is built on the premise of “Job cuts (A) will result in Job creation (B)”, and the “sales pitch” was cutting 100,000 jobs will end up creation 1 million new jobs.
Whether the “math” was bad or not was irrelevant. The communication failed primarily because the LOGICIAL RELATIONSHIP between A and B was never clearly presented. How does -100,000 public sector jobs = +1,000,000 private sector new jobs? As a result, the message never hit home.
As an aside, 99% of sermons I hear in churches contain this relationship: “If we do A, then God will do B”. Pastors will do well to take time to think this through and ask how one leads to the other.