Mark Grimm

 

Mitt’s A Hit: Speech Shows Human Side

Maybe Mitt Romney is not that stiff after all. In his most important speech ever, the GOP presidential nominee delivered some heartwarming stories that revealed his human side. This was sorely needed in the campaign.

Forcing back tears, he revealed his father left a rose on his mother’s nightstand every day so she would awaken to it. The day he died she knew something was wrong when it wasn’t there. Raising five kids when he was building his business and traveling a lot, he said he knew his wife’s job “was harder than mine and more important than mine.” As one analyst put it, “It would take a heart of stone, or an implacable opposition to Romney, not to be impressed by his sincere devotion to his family.”

Romney also offered his best defense yet against the attacks on Bain Capital, the company he founded. He described how he and several of his buddies started the company and struggled to get it going. It put a human face on one of his central positions: the President should be celebrating success not attacking it.

Because Americans still know much less about Romney than they do about the man who has been president for four years, Romney’s speech had higher stakes. His speech delivered.

The writer is a speaking coach and political consultant. Find more speaking tips here.

Media Bias Caught on Tape: Chalian is Tip of the Iceberg

Yahoo News fired its Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian for explosive remarks he made caught on tape. Chalian said Mitt and Ann Romney are “happy to have a party with black people drowning.” The statement came during the GOP convention while Hurricane Isaac was causing havoc.

Yahoo acted quickly to fire Chalian. Chalian later posted an apology for what he described as his “inappropriate and thoughtless joke.” That’s spin, of course. He wasn’t joking. He blurted out an honest expression of his bias. What’s really frightening is that Chalian was the political director of ABC News from 2007-2010. He essentially directed the political coverage of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Gives you a lot of confidence in their objectivity, doesn’t it? Are we to believe no one at ABC News or Yahoo was aware of his bias? Of course, not.

Even after this disclosure, some journalists rushed to his defense. PBS’s Gwen Ifill calls him, “God’s gift to political journallism.” NY Times reporter Adam Nagourney calls him a “first-rate journalist.” You think there’s any chance they’re voting for Romney this year?

ABC News nightly newscast is so bias I really can’t watch it anymore. Across the news channels, so many reporters are mixing news with commentary, I don’t think people know the difference anymore. Journalism training used to mean seeking the truth, conveying it, and allowing the consumers to form the opinions. Those days are gone. Media bias occurs every day in America. Reporters are usually not foolish enough to get caught on tape with such over-the-top expressions of it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

The response is to get your news from as many different sources as possible and always consider the source. Ask tough questions about objectivity. Media savvy is a like a muscle. You have to exercise it to have it work at full strength.

The writer is a former TV news anchor/reporter and current media professor. He owns a firm that offers media consulting.

Memo to Chris Christie: It’s About Mitt, Not You.

The GOP Republican Convention’s first night featured two very different speeches with mixed results for each.

The convention’s overriding purpose is to help elect Mitt Romney president. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t get that memo. His speech was mostly about himself and his New Jersey record. As one pundit put it, Christie “sounded more like the nominee than the keynote.” His Mitt endorsements seemed a lot like passing references during “Christie Fest.” Christie is very authentic, an appealing quality in politics. And his pugnacious style is helpful in drawing the contrast between the vision and record of the two major parties. But it was an awkward mistake to have Mitt in the audience cheering on Christie’s 2016 presidential speech (should Romney lose). Mitt even had to stand up and cheer when directed by Christie. This is Christie’s time to be the blocker, not the one running with the ball. You wouldn’t know that from his speech.

As for Ann Romney, her love affair with her husband is both authentic and politically potent. Her strongest moment came when she dismissed the label of her “storybook marriage,” insisting storybooks don’t have screaming kids and breast cancer and MS in them. I would have liked to hear more about how Mitt help her during her struggles — specific and heartwarming examples that really define who he is. She did appear a bit programmed at times, reading rather than feeling. That’s understandable given the pressure of the moment. Overall, she helped Mitt’s cause because it’s hard for any mom not to relate with this woman. And, she had no confusion about who the nominee was.

The writer is a professional speaker and speaking coach who has managed a number of political campaigns that have unseated longtime incumbents.

Low-Cost Video Must Be Part of Your Plan

When you snooze, you lose. That’s the mentality any business or cause should have now when it comes to using video as part of the way they communicate.

Technology has changed everything by lowering the cost of entry for video producers. Low-cost video production is now available to everyone and every marketing/social media plan should include video. It is an important way to tell your story, a visual way that will attract viewers if done well. 

Everything you need is affordable and online. Find a simple camera the size of a smart phone (example: FlipVideo). Choose the model that’s best for you. A tripod and two studio lights can be purchased inexpensively. Green screens and their frames are also available. This allows you to place any background you wish behind you (see how this is done here). You can even add the sights and sounds of a parade.  

The camera, tripod, lights, green screen are for under $400. Editing software likes this is less than $100. It’ll take a little work to learn it. A couple of lessons may be needed there.

There is a need for high-end video and the professionals are worth the money. But you can make your own videos to update content, and post them to YouTube.

You need to be in the video game. That’s where your competitor is headed. Let me know if I can help.

The writer is a former TV anchor/producer who runs his own communications business.

Mitt’s VP Pick of Paul Ryan: A Line in the Sand

Mitt Romney’s pick of Congressman Paul Ryan for VP draws a line in the sand for conservatives. Ryan’s controversial budget (which passed in the House) talks specifics about spending cuts. Normally, politicians from both parties hate to do that for obvious reasons — no one wants to get constituencies mad at them. Heck, the Senate hasn’t passed any budget in three years.The Ryan budget is a sharp contrast to the usual rhetoric about spending less. Most people are for less government spending unless it involves their piece of the pie.

The pick will energize conservatives and liberals because Ryan challenges the way we fund entitlements. Ryan proposes major changes to Medicare and Medicaid (health care for the poor). The complicated plan will be easy to demagogue and Team Obama will take every opportunity to shift the focus away from the President’s failed economic record to the Ryan budget.

Why would Romney accept this political baggage?

Many conservatives worry Romney is not committed to their cause and he has responded with a bold and risky choice. Many Republicans leaders fear the specifics of the Ryan budget will not play well in 30-second spots. Yet, Ryan is a conservative rock star who will light a fire among the Tea Party faithful. His prodigious fundraising indicates he has struck a nerve.

Romney’s choice was anything but timid and it shows he is willing to risk his presidential race on the hope voters have really had enough of the old song and dance. Time will tell.

Few believe the Ryan budget would ever become law as is. It’s a launching point for a serious discussion about deficit/debt reduction. That, in itself, is an achievement in Washington.

The writer is a small business owner, political consultant and a former GOP elected official. View more here.

Cut “Umms” and “You Knows” from Your Speaking

Umm, I want to write today, you know, about how to reduce, ahh, the unnecessary words in our speaking.

Like, nearly all of us are, like, guilty of some use of these pesky words that add nothing to the message. Their overuse can, like, really drive listeners crazy. Let’s try to fix this.

First, tape yourself speaking. You’ll be surprised how you sound and become more conscious of the unneeded words. Awareness is really a key. Most people don’t even realize they are doing it.

Second, have a friend or family member hit a bell or tap a glass every time you say one of the words.This is a wonderful exercise and the more you do it the better your chances of reducing the clutter.

Third, recognize silence is OK. People feel they have to fill every moment with chatter so pauses are often filled with umms and you knows. Pace yourself and be more comfortable with a little dead air.

Please try these out and let me know how you do. I think they’ll, like, really help, you know, with your speaking.

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