The race for the White House is one of the most “dramatic” events out there. And if you think there are a lot of Producers on Broadway shows, imagine how many “Producers” there are of these two campaigns. With those kinds of similarities to what we do, you can bet I tuned in to what was being said (and what was not being said) to see what I could learn from the two men that squared off on Wednesday night.
Here are three things I picked up from the Presidential debate:
1. People Like A Fight
About 50 Million People tuned in to the debate. I don’t have the stats, but I’d bet that a large chunk of that 50 mill has already made up their mind on who they are going to vote for (which is why the statistics say that debates don’t affect the outcome of elections) . . . but they tune in anyway. Why? They want to watch the good guy (whoever that is to that person) fight the bad guy. It’s classic dramatic structure . . . protagonist versus antagonist. A reminder to the dramatists out there to clearly define your characters, and also that mano-a-mano verbal sparring can be thrilling, even when we don’t understand half of what the characters are saying. As long as we are rooting for them to beat the bad guy, we’re along for the ride.
2. Take a Spinning Class
The greatest debaters are the ones that know how to morph the answer to the posed question into whatever talking point they want to push that day. There is nothing more awkward than a bad spin. But watching a politician do it well, is like listening to Patti LuPone sing “Meadowlark.” You just say to yourself, “How do they do that!?” Or better yet, you don’t even know they do it all. As a Producer and a Marketer, getting the message you want out both in marketing but more importantly in the Press, takes master spinners. And boy were both boys spinning hay into gold on Wednesday.
3. You gotta know when to Break the Rules.
The first three minutes of every debate I’ve ever watched included a prologue by the (dry) moderator who talked about the very strict format including how much time each candidate will have for their statements, and how these rules and regs were “agreed upon by both parties” in question. And then I watched both candidates break those rules all night long. And you know what? If they’re not annoying about it, if it’s not egregious, it can be effective. Getting ahead in business, especially when facing steep competition, is knowing when you have to color outside the lines.
There are two more Presidential Debates and one more for the VPs. You can bet your deficit I’ll be tuning in . . . not only to watch the next leader of our nation, but also to pick up some tips on how I can lead my next production.
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