Helen Clark aces debate

14 July 2016

Helen Clark had clearly prepared well for yesterday’s UN Secretary General debate. She had a clear message and was ready for every question asked of her. This is why, in my opinion, she was the best of all 10 participants.

What was her message?

She consistently focused on two areas. Her first was the need for the UN to improve in the area of peace and security. This would be her most pressing issue if she gets the job. Clark referred back to this a number of times and sometimes backed up her point with good examples.

The second point of her message was her extensive experience in leadership. She referred to her role as New Zealand Prime Minister regularly and how that experience would be valuable at the helm of the UN. This was a clever tactic because while her competitors all have impressive leadership experience, none have led their country.

Ready for questions?

Clark was ready for every question. Probably her best answer came when she was asked what she thought of the view that it was the turn of someone from Eastern Europe’s to hold the position of Secretary General. Firstly, she said the role should be taken by the person with the best talent. But then she said that she came from a small country in the South Pacific, “and we’ve never had a Secretary General either.” That was the perfect answer. It made her point memorable to all who heard it, while it was also humorous and non-threatening.

Will this get her the job?

This probably won’t get her the job. That’s because her target audience may not have even been watching. Who gets the role will come down to the five permanent members of the Security Council and each have the power to veto anyone they don’t want. This view that it’s Eastern Europe’s turn may well derail Clark’s campaign. But one thing is certain. It won’t be her communication skills that let her down.

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Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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