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Media training lesson why Key won leaders debate

31 October 2011
His mastery of body language was why Prime Minister John Key clearly won the first leaders debate between himself and Labour Leader Phil Goff tonight. Most media training courses highlight the importance of body language, because it has far more impact on viewers than verbal communication. People bond more with people who look relaxed, smile and don't get too confrontational. This was exactly how Key came across, but Goff was less than warm. While there was some confrontation from both men, Key was more controlled and his comments were less personal. It was rare for Goff to smile and lot's of his time was used attacking Key. While an opposition leader is expected to attack an incumbent Prime Minister, Goff overdid this and forfeited some of his time to focus on his policy. A good media training lesson for him would have been to put on a slight smile throughout the debate. This is because TV has a way of making a natural look seem like a frown. Another problem for Goff was the tone of his voice. He sounded angry and that doesn't resonate well with undecided voters or people looking for leadership. Key on the other hand came across as welcoming and in charge. He was never flustered and showed warmth with his voice. This allowed him to bond more with viewers. It's also why he is so far ahead of Goff as preferred Prime Minister. Both men did well with their answers, but research shows that body language is far more important. That means Key is the clear winner.
Filed under Media Training

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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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