Strategy. Innovation. Brand.

rhetoric

Rick and Joe Screw Up

Rick Perry and Joe Paterno both screwed up in very public ways. Can rhetoric help them recover their footing? You betcha.  Here’s how.

Let’s start with Rick.  I don’t particularly like his politics but I can certainly sympathize with his moment of brain freeze. Many a skilled communicator has run into the occasional communications barrier. It’s happened to me and I’m sure that it’s happened to you.  Though we hold our presidential candidates to higher standards, we also want them to be normal people — more or less like us.  In other words, someone we could have a beer with.  So how does Rick recover?  With self-deprecating humor.  It’ll do him no good to get on his high horse and sound defensive (which is a mistake Herman Cain is making). He’ll do much better if he pokes fun at himself, acknowledges his mistake and moves on. He might even pretend to forget something in his next debate and then laugh, say “Just kidding”, and complete his thought.  That would acknowledge his mistake while making light of it at the same time — exactly what he needs to do.

Joe, on the other hand, is in a much deeper bind and can’t turn to humor.  He has to deal with the perception (true or not) that he could have stopped evil but did nothing instead. It will do him no good to argue the finer legal points.  People aren’t going to give him credit for being right in a narrow legal sense. We want a leader to do the right thing, in the broadest, deepest sense.  To reclaim his good name, Joe will have to use his persuasive skills to give a painful, and deeply felt apology.  I could see him saying, “I’ve always believed that coaching is about teaching good values to young men and women.  It’s about being a role model when life presents you with agonizing choices.  And today, I’m going to teach one of the most painful lessons of my life — I didn’t do the right thing.”  I think Joe still has a lot to teach us — but he needs to lead the way.

Five Tips for the Job Interview

Can Greek rhetoric help you in a job interview?  You betcha.  As rhetoric teaches, you first have to build trust with the audience. Then you have to state the logic of your argument. In a job interview, that means you need to clearly state the reasons why the company would benefit from hiring you. Finally, you have to touch on the audience’s emotions. You’ve already stated the benefits to the company. At this point, you can state the benefits to the individual. How can you help him or her if they decide to hire you?

In many ways, a job interview is no different than giving a speech. In either case, you can use Greek rhetoric to structure your communications. But a job interview also has some unique characteristics that you need to be aware of. Here are five tips for doing a better job in a job interview.  Just watch the video and then go get ’em.

Welcome to Travis White Communications

Welcome to Travis White Communications.  Our goal is to help you be more persuasive. On this website, you’ll find a great deal of information on the science of persuasion and the arts of communication — especially public speaking skills and writing skills.  In addition to the educational material, I also blog on communication, presentation and persuasion topics. Please come back and visit again regularly as we expect to add new content most every day.  You can also get the Persuasive Communication Tip of the Day on Twitter at @TravisCommGuy.

The educational content in this site is divided into five categories found on the navigation bar above.

  1. Rhetoric — the basic principles of persuasion as taught by Aristotle.
  2. Stagecraft – practical advice on how to manage your voice, your body and your slides.
  3. Content –  advice on how to craft the content of your persuasive communication, including the written word.
  4. Sound Bites — how to make your ideas memorable.
  5. Planning — how to create realistic objectives and prepare for your presentation.
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