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Comparison of Kevin Fud and Julia Gillard body language and speaking

 In Learning from Luminaries, Politicians

While watching Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard present themselves over the last seven days, the words that come to mind are, for Rudd: ‘slippery, phoney, smug’ and for Gillard: ‘shaken, scripted, wooden, school-marm’.

Let me elaborate on ‘slippery Kevin’. Rudd likes to keep thing moving and un-fixed – even when he’s fronting a press conference – so we don’t have too much time to peer behind the mask to see the lurking phoniness. That’s why, when he feels eyes ‘prising off his mask’, he’s quick to flick the switch to a ‘gotta zip’ type comment to end press conferences.

My thoughts on ‘wooden Julia’ are these. In last Thursday’s press conference in Adelaide, Gillard demonstrated her woodenness. That is, a lack of flexibility: in how to deliver her spoken messages; and in how to handle heckler journalists.

Gillard lost her cool with the heckler journalist at the end of the conference (with her school-marmish tone and hand gesture paired with the ‘end of sentence’ comment to the journalist) because she didn’t have the flexibility to do otherwise. One option would have been to show bemusement at the heckling (for example she could have in a light tone said, ‘I see we’re not making progress here) and then turn to the other side of the media scrum (shutting down the heckler) and asking for another question.

My working hypothesis on Gillard is this: Wooden body movement and wooden speech delivery, point to a wooden mind.

If I were to coach Gillard on her presentation, I’d advise her to ‘lighten up’. Take your job seriously but lighten up on yourself. This could aid her flexibility in speaking and in handling tough situations.

My coaching advice to Rudd would be to be less precious. It’s not about you. Lose the song and dance routine spin, and talk to people simply and plainly, without jargon or slang.

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