Commanding Abbott beats Nervous Rudd

 In Learning from Luminaries, Politicians

Leaving aside who won the battle of the ideas, in last night’s leader debate, the person – who won the battle of the body language, speaking and presence, consistent with a leader of state who is a top performer – was Tony Abbott.

I scored:

Tony Abbott: 8/10           Kevin Rudd: 6/10

Abbott has made some major changes in his debate presentation.

Abbott’s positive moments were numerous and included:

– His articulate, measured delivery in his closing speech, painting a positive vision for Australia and her people. He marked himself as a leader with his reflection back to his first speech in Parliament and his use of ‘we’re lifters not leaners’ statement.

– His ‘ownership’ and occupying of physical space and his overall commanding presence, at and around the lectern.

– His measured speaking cadence. There was a touch of Obama in his delivery.

– In the moment ability to retort to Rudd’s statements, and having the confidence to look at Rudd when Rudd was speaking.

– Not needing to look down to his notes when speaking. (This is a major positive change in Abbott from prior debates).

– No displays of the pugilistic, extended jaw, brawler from prior debates.

– Elimination of ‘uhm’ fillers in his delivery. (Another major positive change).

– The use of rhythmical phrasing in explaining his points.

Abbott’s negatives were few and included:

– His flair for the obvious, first statement in his opening speech. Something to the effect of, “This is a debate between myself and Mr Rudd.”

– His artificial, scripted, stern facial expression at the end of his opening speech.

– Overplaying his measured speaking delivery.

Rudd’s positive moments were almost absent. He did make some on the spot retorts to Abbott but they were limited.

Rudd’s negatives included:

– A poor, nervous, first 30 seconds to his opening speech. His voice was weak and thin. He rushed his delivery and face was pasty. Overall he looked dazed, unprepared and caught off-guard when the moderator invited him to open the debate.

– Mispronouncing words, clipping the ends of words and syllables in words. He seemed distracted. It was as if he thought he could just wing the debate, but his face, body and speaking were undermining him.

– The need to look at his notes particularly for his opening and closing speeches. This indicated that he was not ‘across his brief’ and consistent with the unprepared affect he displayed.

– Artificial over-gesturing that distracted attention from his words and ideas. Rudd, who in my view has regularly concocted and scripted his gestures to ‘play well with the audience’ now seems unable to speak without them.

– Not having the confidence to look at Abbott while Abbott was speaking. Rather he ignored Abbott and gazed downward at his notes. In effect, the lingering affect was that Rudd wasn’t tough enough to look at Abbott – wasn’t tough enough to face-up to Abbott’s verbal assaults.

– A rushed delivery and lack of vision in his closing speech.

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